Surviving a Tsunami or anything

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artwork by Leigh Standley, Curly Girl Design

 On my way home from work Friday, I listened to a reporter interview a man in Japan who owns a Taxi Company.  His business suffered great losses during the recent earthquakes and tsunamis.  He described how his workers had scavenged packaged noodles floating in the flood waters from a nearby noodle plant and dried them out and stockpiled them and how they had been surviving by eating those noodles boiled in pots, outside, over fires built with wood scraps from the surrounding debris.  He spoke of the dedication of his workers who continued to show up for work, though they had family members still missing, to help rebuild.  He spoke of hope and of the future.  Amazing isn’t it?

I started thinking of people I know who have lived through great crisis and then continued living after the crisis is resolved, often starting over after a death or some other part of their life is changed forever.  From the outside looking in, in the moment, it seems like the crisis defines the person who is living through it.  As a witness, we feel helpless and apart, unable to even begin to grasp what strength and resolve must be necessary to even get through one day of their situation.  We sit in awe of those people and it is amazing how resilient a human being can be.

Then I remembered times in my life when things have been difficult.  I remembered people asking, “How do you do it?  How are you getting through?”  And, I remember saying, “I don’t know.   We just do what we need to do.”  That’s the trick, isn’t it?  To come out the other side, you just put one foot in front of the other and keep on going.

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about a particular family who’s young son is suffering a terrible disease and how through it all, the mom and dad and extended family are making an effort to keep life as normal as possible for the other kids.  The mother sits for hours…days, bedside at the hospital.  She takes breaks to go to elementary school basketball games and birthday parties.  The contrast makes my head spin.  I overheard someone ask her, “How are YOU doing?”  “I’m fine,” she said.  “I’m just doing what I’ve got to do.”

How do we do it?  Picking up one foot and placing it on solid ground up ahead?  Survivors, those who do what has to be done, must have faith that tomorrow will bring another day.  Mothers of sick children, anyone who has suffered loss, and cab drivers in Japan, they all know that things will eventually change, and somehow, must hope for whatever future brings.  They put one foot in front of the other and they are amazing.

To listen to news story about Smile Smile Taxi, visit:  http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/03/18/pm-a-long-road-ahead-for-japanese-taxi-company/?sms_ss=twitter&at_xt=4d83d8b0d1051966,0

Watching

I stand outside the pastor’s office at church like a delinquent student waiting to see the principal.  With time on my hands, I put my powers of observation to work.  I’m reminded of school days because the office is in the lower level of the church in a hallway made of cinderblock painted a glossy pastel blue.  Through open doorways, I see colorful wall murals in cheerful classrooms proclaiming, “Jesus loves me.”  I’m sure the pastor chose this noisy hallway for his office because of the ample window to the northern sky.  Sunlight is streaming through the sheer curtain into the hall from the glass in his door.

As I wait, I notice the busy parents as they shepherd children to appropriate classrooms.  They are distracted as they rush to drop their children off, but meet my gaze on their way back up the hall to climb the stairs to the big church.  Many offer a smile, and most, “good-morning” or “hello.”

I witness a particularly touching moment as a mother in her Sunday best approaches the stairs with a small boy.  He is very young but an experienced walker with a wispy halo of fine blond hair.  They walk past sweetly murmuring to one another, the boy’s tiny palm in his mother’s hand.  This image alone is sweet but then from around the corner, the father appears.   He is a tall, broad man with a shaved head, but his eyes are soft.  He sees his family and gently smiles asking the boy if he’s going to “big” church.  Mother and son close the distance and they turn to ascend the stairs.  As the trio climbs together, the small boy, without a word raises up his tiny hand.  The father without hesitation reaches down to hold it gently in his grasp.  What faith that boy has in his father so early in life, knowing whenever he reaches, his father’s hand will be there.