29. Cow Pie Water

All forty were completely empty. I lifted each plastic gallon jug just to be sure. Hikers in the previous town promised a huge cache of water here. Whatever drops had been left quickly evaporated as the sun mercilessly beat down. The hot dry wind blew in my face, bushes and cacti too short to provide any useful kind of shade at all. My wife and I were on the Pacific Crest Trail …

28. Ryokan Taigu

I’d like to introduce you to a little poem by Ryokan Taigu, who lived in the late 1700s and early 1800s, and is one of the most popular figures in Japanese history, known for his poetry, calligraphy, and a very unique way of looking at the world. “Taigu” is a name he gave himself, and anyone who can read Japanese will immediately recognize the meaning. It means “big fool” or “great fool,” so Ryokan called himself “The Great Fool.” In this short poem about food, Ryokan asks a very basic, and seemingly very foolish, question. And that is “Why do people eat?” …

27. The Hotel

In the city of Minami Sanriku, on the northeastern coast of Japan, the Kanyo Hotel sits on a high cliff overlooking the ocean. This is a really nice hotel, which usually costs well over $300 a night to stay there. The food is amazing, and there is a really cool cave-like hot spring built into the side of the cliff, so you relax outside in hot spring waters while feeling cool sea wind blow in your face, and watch the sunset over the ocean. However, I didn’t get to experience any of these things. …

26. The Water Child

Tremendous pain and suffering can give birth to life and beauty. For reasons I am just beginning to understand, pain and suffering in this world are catalysts for creation, especially for creating beautiful things. In the mud, in the devastation, in the dark, we crave something with beauty and hope and light. And we will do anything we can to hold on to it. This is the unmistakable power of art. This is the tool in the Creator’s hands, which he has lovingly put into our hands. May we always have the strength and wisdom and love to use it. …