Lessons Learned from Journey to Foreign Lands

Worship Service Coordinator: Mike Huber; Music: Joseph L’Amour

Kristen and I are traveling in Japan this week. Here’s some of what we’re learning so far:

1. The Japanese have mastered the design of the bath and the bed. We’re converting.

2. We have rarely met a more courteous, frugal and kind people. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, we were able to get from here to there and also find our way to many small, delightful “mom and pop” restaurants. This courtesy extends into the deep structure of their culture: reciprocal bowing, trains and appliances that work, spaces designed for quiet joy and careful attention. Japan is a refuge for introverts. 

3. There are many ways to travel and we are better pilgrims than tourists.  We connect and commune with our surroundings by showing up and shutting up, then listening for the deep currents and lively spirits that define a place.  Not a lot of cell phone pix, not a lot of chatting. A culture that has preferred tea to coffee for 1000 years is difficult to praise too much.  

4. It gets light early in Japan. Diffuse light at 4 am means a wake-up call by 5 am. Longer days, shorter nights. Awakening moment by moment. 

5. It’s moving and humbling for us to wake up in a culture where the values and images of our Buddhist practice are written into the landscape, language and details of personal inter-action.

We’ve traveled a long way to come home.