I’m not alone in sending waves of love to Japan as it takes courageous steps to recover and rebuild after massive devastation. Some of what I think about what restoration is and how it happens has been inspired by a talk I heard many years ago by author Maxine Hong Kingston.
She spoke not long after her house, belongings, and 146 pages of a manuscript she was working on had vanished in a fire, the same day she attended her father’s funeral. It showed tremendous resilience for her to be there with us that day – a resilience that hadn’t been consumed in the flames.
Ms. Kingston intimately described her thoughts the moment she realized she’d lost everything, and how, in the midst of this destruction, she began thinking about a cherished set of bells the fire had consumed.
Later, she said, new thoughts of how to reconstruct her book started to dawn and inspire her, ultimately leading to “The Fifth Book of Peace.” She also mentioned that the first gift given to her after the fire was a set of bells – from a friend who didn’t know this was an item Kingston had lost.
To me the bells and the book were symbols of the enduring nature of ideas. The qualities she truly loved about those bells, and the good work she had poured into the manuscript, couldn’t be lost. All that good was right at hand to be rediscovered. This says to me that renewal happens in thought and blooms in action. Looking above and beyond what appears to be total loss, we can be assured that the all-benevolent Mind that conceives and perpetuates universal existence is revealing fresh views of ongoing goodness.
A growing understanding of the spiritual, eternal basis of existence is a rock upon which we can help the people of Japan stand, as they face the task of rebuilding cities and restoring lives. Also, the ongoing fear of harm and obliteration that the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear calamity have evoked can be calmed and addressed with the understanding that, despite dire mortal views, good cannot be obliterated.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, was so right when she wrote, “The only power of evil is to destroy itself. It can never destroy one iota of good” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 186). Anxiety, despair, and hopelessness don’t spring from God, the eternal source of all good, and they don’t have any ability to devour or prevent the infinite goodness that God is preserving and forwarding. Destruction isn’t what defines us or the character of a country. We are each wholly defined by the good we think and do as expressions of God. The infinite range of good attributes we inherit straight from God, can only be multiplied, never diminished.
I know that God, divine Love, is blessing Japan and inspiring this wonderful country to discover and employ just the right qualities that will promote its regeneration. As the Bible says, “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them” (Isa. 42:9). God leads us to discover a whole new level of goodness beyond what we have ever known or experienced before.