Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hiroshima, Hibakusha, Hope ... Hiroshima to Hope Seattle, 2014

We drove off island yesterday to be part of the gathering of people at Green Lake in Seattle, who come to remember and commit to a world without atomic energy used for any reason.
"The mission of From Hiroshima to Hope is to commemorate the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and all victims of war and violence. We educate for peace, non-violent conflict resolution and nuclear disarmament through a public outdoor event each year on August 6th featuring music, speakers, and a lantern-floating ceremony."
The ferry ride and forty-minute drive to Seattle took us from the comfort zone of our usual Wednesday and put us in a place where the faces and the connectedness of our actions lit up. This was our second time at Hiroshima to Hope. We packed lightly, and were there without a hitch. My ankle is still in recovery but a brace, boots and a portable chair made the discomfort minimal. There we were with many others. Hina, the moon is becoming fat. She was there to witness us. With patches of clouds for company she looked on. The lantern calligraphers of Beikoku Shodo Kenkyukai painted messages of our choice onto the rice paper lantern sides, the sea of lantern bases made and donated by Eddie Griffiths, cabinetmaker waited for us like a port of ships dry-docked, waiting for this season of Toro Nagashi (the lantern floating ceremony, in which lanterns representing the souls of the dead are floated out to sea and prayers are offered that the souls may rest in peace.)

This year DREAM is what Pete chose for his lantern. This year I chose TOLERANCE. I was waiting for my turn at the calligrapher's table. A young boy was in front of me, he pointed to the laminated signs printed in Japanese and English. He chose TOLERANCE. I followed his lead. It is just the prayer word I would like to practice, and envision for this new year. Back at our spot on the grass with our lanterns and time to observe, and listen to the speakers, singers, musicians, and drums of taiko I joined the drumming with the sound of my tiny bright pink rattle. With the deep resonance of the huge drums beating like the collective heart beat, my little rattle reminded me to clear and bring the best of my nature to the gathering to the moment. I enjoyed that, I rocked to the drum and rattle.

Thirteen years ago on August 6th I was in Hiroshima with my friend. We flew to the place where atomic energy was used to end a war, and obliterate life. My experience in Hiroshima forever changed my life. My friend and I delivered a thousand folded paper cranes to add to the millions of other cranes folded to honor peace. Yesterday evening Pete and I came to refresh our commitments to peace in as many manifestations as possible, in our everyday. The program printed for the evenings gathering included the Peace Declaration (2013) from the Mayor of Hiroshima. In it Mayor Kazumi Matsui wrote "Indiscriminately stealing the lives of innocent people, permanently altering the lives of survivors, and stalking their minds and bodies to the end of their days, the atomic bomb is the ultimate inhumane weapon and an absolute evil. The hibakusha, who know the hell of an atomic bombing, have continuously fount that evil. Under harsh, painful circumstances, the hibakusha have struggled with anger, hatred, grief and other agonizing emotions." The hibakusha is the word used to identify radiation victims. The perverse and damming scarlet letters we humans brand one another with are part of the reason my prayer, and the letters on my lantern read TOLERANCE. Just before it was time to walk down to follow Rev. Cederman, Choeizan Enkyoji Seattle Nichiren Buddist Temple, Br. Senji Kaneada and Br. Gilberto Perez, Nopponzan Myohoji Dojo to the lake, I looked at the letters of calligraphy. I cannot read kanji, but as I tried to remember how the calligrapher's brush moved to leave her marks I knew I had placed the message upside down. I corrected it before we moved to join the monks. Tolerance is so easily turned upside down. Noticing that in myself, I hope the gift was to self-correct.

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