16. Tree of Hope

I looked up at the enormity of it. The tree was almost 100 feet tall. It grew here in the city of Rikuzentakata as part of a forest of 70,000 pine trees for hundreds of years. The trees protected the people from storms and strong coastal winds and were once chosen as one of the 100 most beautiful landscapes in Japan. But now they were all gone, all except for this one surviving tree. …

15. The Cookout

The food just after the tsunami was terrible. Every meal was treated like an emergency situation. Refugees and relief workers alike, we all lived off of emergency rations, canned and instant foods. This kind of food may keep the body going for a day, but it sure lacks the vitamins, nutrients, and life-giving beauty that we so desperately needed. …

13. A Party One Evening

The parking lot of the old Buddhist temple was packed full of trucks and vans. It sat on a hilltop, on the outskirts of the city of Higashi Matsushima, the only structure still standing that was big enough to hold a large group of people. One of the relief workers we met that day invited us to come here for a party. …

11. Cortège et Litanie

The “Cortège et Litanie” by French organist Marcel Dupré is perhaps one of the most famous organ pieces of the twentieth century. I’ve been thinking a lot about this piece during the spread of COVID-19. I would even go so far as to say that it has become a bit of a theme song for me. I will be playing it for our Christmas Day service here in Tokyo. …

10. Power of Beauty in the Devastation

When everyone else was moving their water-logged pianos to the street, they decided NOT to throw out their piano. It still had life in it. It was still breathing, in a sense. It could be fixed! There was hope! And they desperately needed that hope. During that time, there was a tendency to think it was pointless, that nothing would ever get better, that their town…and their lives…were beyond repair. …

08. Art and Mission

At a webinar this week, I was asked, “What is the biggest challenge for Japanese becoming Christians?” The biggest challenge is that most Japanese have never met a Christian. Why would you become a Christian if you’ve never met one? The beauty of the arts creates those opportunities, bringing people together, where non-Christians can experience Christian community for the first time. …

07. Sea Glass

When the tsunami siren sounded, Hiroko tied her dog, Kai, to a tree and headed for the shelter. “I’ll be right back,” she said. Kai waved his tail in reply. Hiroko didn’t think there was any danger. Why would she? Her town was protected by 13-foot sea walls. And sirens often went off after earthquakes. Forty-five minutes later, she watched in horror as the tsunami surged over those walls and tore through her town. …

CONNECT WITH ME

Join mailing list to receive updates on current writing and recording projects.