Probably the highlight of Japan for me has been meeting the people here and being part of their family for a while. They have taught me what it means to serve others and show genuine hospitality. They have put themselves out in order to make us feel welcome. They have done more for us than we ever could begin to repay. God`s grace flows from the people we have met. This is also evident in the general kindness and gracefulness we have experienced outside of our hosts - in shops, on the streets, restaurants etc. One day Stefan and i were travelling to Kyoto and we gave up our seats so that 2 women and their kids could sit down. Later in the journey as they got up to leave the children presented us with a little folded paper box containing an origami crane and frog they had made for us - we were touched. An indiscrimanate act of kindness as Foy Vance would say (click here to hear the song). It was only later that we discovered that the paper crane is the Japanese symbol of peace & longevity - which made the moment all the more significant.
I`ve been reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. In it he quotes Frederick Buechner:
"For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around here knee-deep in the fragmant muck and misery and marvel of the world. It is not objective proof of God`s existence that we want but the experience of God`s prescence. That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get."
So there you have it, this has been my miracle, my window to the soul. I wonder what Thailand has in store...(can`t guarantee as good internet access as Japan so not sure how often i can post!)