Olympic figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu, gold medalist at the Sochi Winter Games, is from the Tohoku region of Japan, where the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and tsunami hit three years ago today. The effects of the disaster hindered Hanyu’s opportunities to pursue his Olympic goals. But his tenacity prevailed. In spite of the setbacks and need to keep moving – finding “home” and skating rinks outside his town – he had the goal of not only bringing back an Olympic medal to his hometown, but also of performing as much as he could for those who are still in the area where the disaster took place.
In his interviews he talks about what he could give back to those who have been working to rebuild this area, as well as to those who were driven away from their home to find new life and stability in towns unfamiliar to them. He said he might not be able to do much himself but hoped that his performance would inspire others to think about what they could do to make a difference in Tohoku. And, as a proof of his gratitude, he announced that he would donate his prize money – nearly $60,000 – to revitalizing the communities affected by the tsunami (Sponichi, Feb. 27).
When he returned to his home prefecture, the mayor of Sendai asked him, “I heard you eat very little. Where does your power come from?” To this Hanyu answered that his “power” came not only from his love for skating but also from remembering how he had been supported by so many people who helped him continue skating in spite of the destruction (NHK, Feb. 26).
As I watched these interviews, I felt the power that truly moved Hanyu was love – his love for skating and love of all those who supported him, starting with his family and those who made it possible for him to skate. The love that moved him, I strongly believe, has a divine origin; its source is God, divine Love. It is the love that the Bible talks about when it says, “Perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18, New King James Version). Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of The Christian Science Monitor, described divine Love as “impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 13).
Three years ago, Hanyu saw the tsunami – something beyond what we would see in the movies – along with incredible sadness, anger, and bewilderment. He also witnessed the real strength and power that never bows down to disaster and destruction.
Many spiritual scriptures, including the Bible, suggest that “man’s extremity is God’s opportunity” (see II Corinthians 1:8-11), but that doesn’t mean the extremity is sent by God. According to the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, the extremity allows for the proof of the constant and consistent goodness and love of God for all to become evident in our lives.
What truly supports us is a constant outpouring of love, a flood tide of love, that comes from God, who cares for, watches over, loves, and protects each of us (see “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 278). Christian Science teaches that God is both Love and Principle, and is the source of harmony and peace in individuals’ lives. And as the image and likeness of this Love and Principle, we each have the capacity to feel order, strength, generosity, and joy beyond disorder and despair.
The number of medals Japanese athletes earned in Sochi was few, but this gold medal meant the whole world to Japan, especially to Tohoku.
Thank you, volunteers, for coming to Tohoku. Thank you for all the boxes of goods and for the financial support. And most of all, thank you for your prayers and for the love you have been sending to Japan during the past three years.