Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Friday, August 12, 2005



Nagasaki & Takashi Nagai - The atomic bombing & a doctor in it

Hosokawa Gracia - A faithful wife in the sengoku-jidai

Tomihiro Hoshino - Paralyzed, but free in Christ and in pictures

Gunpei Yamamuro - A Salvation Army colonel who loved the poor

What Opened Their Eyes - 1551 - Two men touched by Jesus in 1551

Francis Xavier & Paul Anjiro - The first known missionary to Japan & the first known convert

Sources & Reading List (Books where you can read these stories & more)

This page's old introduction

My story, so far...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

In Memoriam

August 9, 2005, marks the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan...

"What you may not realize is that Nagasaki was the center of Japanese Christianity. A substantial Christian community had survived three centuries of persecution. They worshipped underground and endured martyrdom. They were only allowed to live their faith in public at the turn of the century. Then, in 60 seconds, they were wiped out..." - Cooper Abrams

The bomb exploded right over their cathedral. At the Christian Junshin school, teachers led little girls in reciting psalms when the bomb fell:

Virgins like lilies white
Disappeared burning red
In the flames of the holocaust
Chanting psalms
To the Lord

- Takashi Nagai

8,000 Christians died instantly. But their response was not anger...

A few months ago at the bookstore I purchased a book I'd never seen before, called "The Bells of Nagasaki". It told the story of Dr. Takashi Nagai, one of the thousands of Christians who experienced the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. A newsletter published by St. Joseph's Abbey in France tells some of his story:

"August 10 was spent taking care of the wounded. On the 11th, work was a bit less hurried, and Takashi left to search for [his wife] Midori, who had stayed at home while the children and their grandmother were safe in the mountains, since August 7. He found the site of his home with difficulty in an area of tiles and cinders. Suddenly, he came upon the carbonized remains of his wife. On his knees, he prayed and wept, then placed the bones in a container. Something shone weakly through the powder of the bones of her right hand: her Rosary!

"He bowed his head: 'My God, I thank You for permitting her to die while she prayed... thank you for having been with her at the hour of her death... Jesus, you carried the heavy Cross until you were crucified upon it. Now, You come to shed a light of peace on the mystery of suffering and death, Midori's and mine... Strange fate: I believed so strongly that it would be Midori that would lead me to the tomb... Now her poor remains are resting in my arms... Her voice seems to murmur: forgive, forgive.'

"Takashi's pardon would be perfect. Later, he will lead Christians discouraged by the loss of their family to consider that the A-bomb was part of God's plan, who always brings good from evil."

I was born in America and raised thinking only of the political & military points of view about the atomic bombs. Who attacked first. Who was right. Who was wrong. How many American soldiers the bomb saved. Then when I read about a little girl who died years after the Hiroshima bombing, Sadako Sasaki, it finally began to become personal to me. I began to understand that the bomb is a heinous weapon. An experimental bomb that maims generations of people just like you and me.

Tonight on TV, Yoko and I watched a story called "Akai Senaka" ("The Red Back"). It was about a man named Taniguchi, who was seven at the time of the Nagasaki bombing. His back was burnt red and became a famous picture of the bomb's horror. Today he is 67 years old and his wife still has to put ointment on his scarred back. It never fully healed. Half of his body is deformed, and large lime deposits continue to grow in his back; he will need to have surgery to remove them periodically until he dies. He recently took the difficult journey to New York in May for an international peace conference about nuclear weapons, which takes place once every five years. He gave away many pictures of his red back. For the first time, the US government allowed pictures of atomic bomb victims to be displayed at the conference. I wish Taniguchi had taken off his shirt while the politicians were arguing about which countries should have nukes and which ones should stop developing them. When he returned to Japan, Taniguchi lay in bed for a long time recovering from exhaustion. He went to the doctor because he now has four new lime deposits in his back. Most people want to live longer, but he realized that this pain will never go away, and that for him to live longer means more pain. Then he watched TV reports of the politicans debating about which countries are allowed to keep their nukes and which ones shouldn't make new ones. Taniguchi will try to stay alive longer, even though he is getting older and it is painful to live, so that he can show people what the atomic bomb does.

I shared the story of the 8,000 Christians who perished in the Nagasaki bomb in the hope that you, my friends & family in America, will take the bomb personally. I didn't for many years. It was easier not to look, to talk about Pearl Harbor (a surprise attack on a military base, not a whole city) or the things that the Japanese army had done in Asia, as was learned after the war. But please look. Everybody has done wrong stuff, and everybody -- every human -- is hurting. Everyone needs sympathy, and if we can set aside for a moment our need to defend our actions, perhaps we'll see that everyone is human and we're not so different.

Mothers who've lost sons in war understand each other no matter where they live. Someone recently shared how when you look at war as through the eyes of a mother, you mourn the loss of anyone's child (read "The Power of Empathy" by Daisaku Ikeda). I think God must feel the same way and see things the same way. God, help us see through Your eyes.

This post is dedicated to the heart of God, who mourns the lives lost from what we do to each other, and to each child He created who died in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 60 years ago, and in all wars. May God bless you & me, and give us eyes to see each other through His heart.

For more information about Takashi Nagai, see Nagasaki city's page dedicated to him and his "love your neighbor" ministry.

Please also read Nagasaki city's Peace Declarations.