Tag Archives: Experience

The Beginning of Understanding

There is a principal that every strength has an equal an opposite weakness. The stronger the strength, the weaker the weakness.
Yesterday was bunkasai, or culture day, at my junior high. We all showed up on a Saturday (the whole school gets Monday off) and the students showed off their projects, speeches, musical talent, and humor. It’s October, the beginning of the second semester for these students and the beginning of fall. Weather wise, it has just started to get unbearably chilly. Each day is a toss up on whether or not I will need a jacket. Bunkasai was held in the gym. The cold, dark, gym. My hands were freezing. I really wish I had brought gloves.
Japan has few natural resources. It used to have some coal over in Iwaki, but that dried up a few decades ago. There is no oil here. The trees were decimated once and have now been replaced. For awhile nuclear energy was the way to go, but now rampant protests post the Daiichi Fukushima plant disaster mean the government is trying to shut the plants down. Energy is expensive here. And the Japanese do not care to be wasteful. So they’re not. I think that is a great attribute. But sometimes, I’m cold.
Yesterday we took an hour and a half lunch break. Some people ate outside, which I opted against. Indoors wasn’t heated, but at least blocked the wind. After lunch I used the bathroom, then washed my hands, which ended up being worse. My school doesn’t have any hot water taps or air heaters. After washing, my hands were so cold even the students remarked about it to each other. I ended up hunting down sources of energy and using them as heat. Two students cradled my hands for a few seconds each. My hands stroked the coffee maker, then hugged the vents for the spotlight. It didn’t make my hands warm, but it did make them less cold.
There is a song I used to sing in church that had a line saying to God, “You are the warmest water.” Not hot, not scalding. Just exactly what I need it to be at the exact moment. Really warm water. Something I appreciate more now than I ever have before. And something I don’t think I yet fully understand.

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