22 Mar 2011

Letter from Sendai

I’m grateful to everyone for their generous comments regarding our reporting from Japan and particularly ‘My Tsunami Diary’ which you can access here. But today I am devoting Snowblog to someone else’s writing.

This remarkable letter was emailed to me via a friend from a European woman named Janet who lives in one of the Tsunami affected areas of Sendai One of the Centres from which I reported from last week:

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend’s home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

It’s utterly amazingly that where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.”

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.

We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.

They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4

5 reader comments

  1. adrian clarke says:

    Jon,you may have noticed i have not been overly complementary of either the coverage,nor the diary.
    That is not because i do not consider you , either very brave or a good reporter,for you fill both those criteria to me.
    I found the coverage of the incident to be based solely on the destruction , and the doom laden talk of nuclear disaster.The diary to me was just a repeat of the weeks programs i had avidly watched.
    My criticism was based on the fact that little credence was given to the character of the Japanese.The inscrutable acceptance of their fate and the fantastic organisation in the aftermath,plus the truly incredible bravery of those seeking to avert (very successfully) a complete nuclear disaster.
    I watched last nights coverage and was amazed at the way roads have been cleared so they are passable,the way the relief is being dished out without mobs and so cheerfully.
    This letter,to me, sums all that up ,much better than any of the coverage has done.

  2. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    phew.. this realisation of the small and delicate balance we have with the natural world has certainly lifted the spirits and touched minds and souls in Sendai.
    Why does it take disasters of this enormity to live closer to our natural world. Sans everything for Japan .. but somehow this lady is experiencing a higher presence.

  3. Saltaire Sam says:

    That is very moving.

    I wonder if the bankers with their millions but the contempt of their fellow man feel as blessed

  4. fiona hope says:

    It is amazing, this awakening to what is really important in our lives. Community not wealth.
    As I looked at the huge yellow cratered moon last night through my binoculars I was made aware of the breath taking beauty of our galaxy and our jewel planet Earth. Our wealth has hidden most of us from our incredibly beautiful natural environment and our own communities. This letter from Japan is saying to us all “Wake up!”and listen to what the Earth is telling us in so many ways. Thank you to wisdom of the Japanese people.

  5. P says:

    This is not quite as dramatic since it wasn’t in Sendai, but here is another beautiful and haunting account about the first 7 Days in Tokyo:


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