Monday, May 24, 2010

The Swordmaker (Part Two)

Can a day be filled with so many messages from God that to try to process them in one sitting would be like trying to catch cherry blossoms swirling in the wind? Our Thursday with Sensei Kobayashi was one of those times. Like these delicate spring flowers, one should just experience them first before catching the fluttering petals in your cupped hands. I listened. I savored. I jotted down for future reference. Now it was time to write about the petals.

I woke up at 5:30 AM after going to sleep at 12:00 AM. The valley mountains blocked out some of the sunshine so the room remained darkened a little longer--not for too long though. Everyone soon got up and we all decided to head to the onsen. I usually take a bath in the evening (which we did), but when do you get to stay in a ryokan and bathe alongside Japanese cypress trees with birds chirping their morning song and farmers tending their gardens? Hey, we were one with the rhythm of nature. "Ooooooooooommmmmm."

We entered the baths, sat on on our wooden stools, and washed our bodies yet again before going outside into the rotenburo (outdoor onsen). Paul, Roger, Dean and myself sat completely naked--except for the small bath towels on our head--and soaked in the steaming hot water. We talked and rested in the country atmosphere, complete with newly planted rice fields, weathered tiled roofs, ginko trees, and a fence that needed a few more pieces of wood; if you know what I mean. Did we care? Not really. We were four hobbits enjoying ourselves on the road of life. What did we need to hide? Birthday suit transparency was the order of the day. We created a 'hobbitation' of holiness in that habitation of rest.

Bilbo Baggins favorite bath song
Sing hey! for the bath at close of day
that washes the weary mud away!
A loon is he that will not sing:
O! Water Hot is a noble thing!

O! sweet is the sound of the falling rain,
and the brook that leaps from hill to plain;
but better than rain or rippling streams
is Water Hot that smokes and steams...
(Lord of the Rings, Pg. 115)

I soon felt my next generations boiling away so I quickly got out of the water and headed for the lobby to spend some quiet time with God. "Hey, that water was 'atsui' (hot)." The lobby overlooked a picturesque valley painted with varied shades of green. It was a beautiful spot to pray.

God highlighted a lot of verses, but one stood out from the rest, Psalm 115:13-15, "He will bless those who fear the Lord, The small together with the great. May the Lord give you increase, You and your children. May you be blessed of the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth." It was right after this quiet time that I got word from Jan that our second adoption went through. God was telling me he would give me increase. Little did I know that it would begin that morning.

In the mean time Jan was trying to reach me for two days, but our Ryokan did not have wifi and my phone did not work in Izumo; let alone Japan. Paul graciously let me use his phone card for a few minutes and that's when I found out. When I received word about Zoe, I went numb for a few minutes. I couldn't believe it. The timing of God was perfect. We were picking up the sword that day and then this bit of extraordinary news. "Omedetai!!!!! (good news)" The guys all hugged and congratulated me. It was a day of new beginnings for all of us.

After an amazing breakfast, Sensei Kobayashi met us in the lobby of the Ryokan and led us to his home. When I think about the Japan I truly love, my heart turns toward the rustic, beauty of places like Izumo. The air is cleaner, food tastier, water purer, pace slower, and environment serener. I lived for one and a half years in Shizuoka, Japan amidst vegetable gardens and rice fields. Izumo had the same feel. I love Tokyo and Osaka too, it has it's own charm, but the exquisite nuances of Japan's natural beauty can only be found in places outside the big cities.

As we stepped through the genkan (foyer) and into the house, we were greeted with individual table settings of cakes and tea. Mr. and Mrs. Kobayashi were extremely generous and warm hosts. They served us tea, fruit, cakes, local vegetables, a healthy dose of Japanese history, and sushi--yes, sushi! He even gave all of us a little pairing knife made from carbon steel with his initials on it. I was in samurai heaven.

As I shared earlier, Sensei Kobayashi is a real character. In between playful banter, he would throw out petals of wisdom that I quickly wrote into my Moleskine notebook. One such word was this: "I am not decisive. I'm simple."

Simplicity has taken a bad wrap during these days of efficiency and gross consumerism. As I looked around Kobayashi sensei's tatami room, I saw simplicity. There was no TV, radio, overstuffed book shelves, and piles of newspaper. There was a tatami mat floor, two swords on their stands, some certificates on the wall, a shelf with a few antiques, a painting, and shoji doors. He has pared down his material life to focus on one thing: the forging of the best swords in Japan. Japan has designated him a national treasure and the title of best sword maker in the country. Can you believe we sat down with the best of the best? Wow!

I personally need to simplify in order to focus on my number one calling: knowing God and making him known. In order to be decisively obedient, I must simplify more! I must let go of my penchant for material goods and creature comforts, especially good food. Ouch! If God calls me to up and go, I must go! I can't have the things of this world holding me back. Sensei Kobayashi has become the best because he has chosen to simplify. I must do the same. We must do the same.

I will write more tomorrow. I need to simplify and spend some time with my little Aimee. I love you folks.


Tetsuro said...

Thank you for the posting. From your articulate descriptions mixed with great humor, I can now experience what you folks had and learn from it. The revelation you received from Him is simply "sugoi" !!

John said...

Hi Tetsuro

The Lord is continually blowing me away with truths from our time. Get ready for a blog about our time at your house. You will be blessed. Thank you for your encouragement.


Anonymous said...

Been getting the same message about simplicity. Simple is definitely not synonymous w/ powerless. In a day when I'm hearing about and seeing more signs and wonders God says, "Thank Me for the roof over your head. Thank Me for the shirt on your back." The simple, everyday things are as much a miracle, sign and wonder as "supernatural" stuff which after all is just natural stuff to God.

Johnny said...

Amen Cheryl!