Sunday, March 13, 2011

Not quite real...

It's a strange feeling living in Japan in an area with virtually no damage right now.

I have friends who are without water and food, trudging down to a canal to haul water by hand in buckets so they can use their toilets. (rather joyfully trudging I might add.)

I was late home one night, but made it hope safely. Even if I hadn't of received a ride home, I worked in a city where I had at least two options of people I could contact to stay with until trains were running again.

We had no damage to our house, and only a few things knocked over.

Even the bicycles were still standing.

Yesterday and today we didn't have to work, so we didn't have to brave the trains, but I know one girl who came to church by train from Tokyo and didn't have problems today.

There is almost no visible damage in our community. Although we are still feeling aftershocks.

The only things that prove this is really a disaster is a few shops that are closed, endless reports on the internet and TV, and random sections of the grocery stores vanished.

There is no bottled water anywhere. Lots of other drinks, sodas, teas, juice, but no water. Bread is gone. (we bought fresh baked bread from a bakery today instead.) Instant ramen is scarce (which is strange if people are afraid of having no water...) Strangely there are no bananas or tofu to be found. And the last store we went to had no milk. And no canola oil.

Flashlights can't be found in stores.

I'm not sure if it's because people are buying these things, or if it's because they can't be delivered right now.

The food center where lunches are prepared for my city is damaged, so I have to take my own lunch to school tomorrow.

But life here goes on. We continue to prepare for our move. We laugh and tell jokes. The sun shines and the temperatures are raising. Day after tomorrow our third year students will be graduating.

But there's a sense of strangeness about it. Like I shouldn't be doing normal things. There should be a sense of shock, or panic or something.

I worry that my heart shuts down on me at times like this. In fact, I can from my place of detachment, notice that this is how I always dealt with death in the past. No real mourning or distress. Just calm acceptance and then going on with life.

But I wonder if this is really life.

Can I really be living if there is so little passion in my heart? Am I not supposedly in love with this country and her people? I have a friend that is so distressed that she can't be in Japan during this disaster. She wants to help and comfort people and just be present with them in their grief.

I live surrounded by normalness. The people here are not wounded or grieving. It's like watching reflections of myself.

And I am disturbed by my own detachedness.

Sometimes it feels like this is not real. Like it's far away in another country. Like New Zealand or Indonesia. Egypt or Libya.

My friends on Facebook in America who were concerned for my safety, have already gone back to their lives. Basketball games and retreats. Spring flowers and antics of children. American news reports on the earthquake and tsunami and the nuclear crisis, followed by Charlee Sheen's financial crisis.

Such a strange state of limbo.

Just not quite real.

And by that, I think I mean my heart...

Please pray for Japan. Because no matter how real it doesn't seem, it is real. Those are real dead bodies. Real people with no food and water. Real damage and real need. The physical state of thousands and thousands of people have finally been brought to the same place their spirits have been: broken and needy. Pray for God's Holy Presence here. Pray for His Hand and His Wisdom. Pray for grace, love and mercy to abound here.

I understand how difficult it is to pray from a place of safety and comfort. Pray that our hearts can also be opened to feel even a little of what God's heart feels for these people.

Let our prayers be real, for the suffering and need is real. Finally, the false lies of self-sufficiency have been washed away. There is only grace.

Thanks be to God.

PS: I have two good friends who live in Fukushima right now (Haidee and Cindy). They are both safe, but sustained far more damage than anything that happened here. They are not close to the nuclear plants so that is good. Here is a link to Haidee's blog if you would like to read more from someone who is living closer to the actual "disaster."

By Faith in Fukushima


The Brown Recluse said...

Coping mechanisms. Everyone's is different...and you shouldn't ever feel guilty about how you react. Can you imagine if there were no folks like you, calm in the midst of the storm, and EVERYONE was falling apart? No, that would just not do.
You are how God made you. Strong. Able. Capable. With a peace that surpasses understanding.

E. Chikeles said...

I think it is a human thing ... Charlie Sheen was all over on status updates but only five people I know even acknowledged what happened in Japan and two of them are in Japan...

Love your paragraph about prayer, I have been praying the Japanese get a wakeup call through this!

Midnight Shadow said...

I think that sense of detachment is a necessary coping mechanism. Grief has a tendency of shutting people down. You are right to call for everyone to keep praying, and we should all do what we can to help those effected. If the general populous were to grieve as much as a crisis like this deserves, it would only create a larger crisis.