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"Sanctuary and Japanese Sakura"

April 11, 2018

 

 

It was spring, and the cherry blossoms around our home on the island of Shikoku were in full bloom. One afternoon I wandered around delighting in their beauty. I climbed a hill and found myself alone in a quiet spot with three majestic trees and sat under them in a wonderful state of mindfulness. I reflected on how many Japanese live to see the cherry blossoms just one more time. Oh, to be one with the blossoms, if just for a brief moment!

 

The peace was shattered as I heard the roar of an engine and saw a car tearing around the corner, coming to a screeching stop close by me. The door of the black Mercedes swung open and a guy jumped out. A woman sat in the passenger seat with a bored and irritated expression on her face. The guy stood leaning against the car and lit up a cigarette. He took a few puffs, threw down the stub, glanced up at the blossoms and was about to get back in when he noticed me. He stared for a moment and then spat out, "Japanese Sakura!" jumped in, slammed the door, and sped off.

 

The quiet returned, but not the peace. Mindful for a moment of how my face has brought many unsolicited lessons in Japanese aesthetics by self-chosen representatives of the race, reminding me that they think I'm not one of them. How little do they know of who I really am.

 

Gazing out on the mist enshrouded Inland Sea, I remembered who I was and why I was there. My great grandfather had come to the island fleeing persecution and seeking sanctuary. I was not alone, but part of a great human struggle of displacement, taking refuge, and finding home. I was here in the place of my ancestors, taking refuge in the return flight to my true nature. Like the cherry trees, my roots were firmly planted in the earth. 

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