In a quiet place

Yesterday when we looked out of the window of the hotel where we are staying there was a police investigation going on. Two officers had parked their car, with red lights flashing, and were interviewing some people in front of the hotel. We had a pretty good view from our fourth floor room. After a few minutes, one of the officers put his notebook in the back seat of the police car, went to the trunk of the car, and got out a broom. He began to sweep the sidewalk, which had some dirt on it that we hadn’t previously noticed. Then he was joined by two staff members from the hotel who had another broom. There was a lot of very careful sweeping and a two garbage bags were produced and placed one inside of the other to make a double bag, into which the dirt was scooped. Attention was given to making sure that the dirt was completely cleaned up. Then there was a lot of bowing and the two police officers got into their car and left.

We looked around when we got onto the street to see if there had been a broken flower pot or some other clue as to what the incident was about. We found none. Everything looked normal. And, I suspect, we might not have noticed the dirt had it been left there. We’re used to a bit of dirt on the ground.

So far, that is the most serious incident we have witnessed in Japan. The crime rate here is very low. Police officers don’t carry handguns on their belts. There is a famous story of bored police officers who set out a case of beer as bait to see if they could catch a thief. Someone finally did come along and take some beer and they promptly responded, but later they got into big trouble for what they had done. The police aren’t very busy in Japan.

We’ve visited in Tokyo, a huge city where life goes on 24 hours a day. There is always traffic. There are always people walking on the streets. And even there we see unaccompanied children making their way on the trains and walking on the streets. Japan is a very safe place with very little crime. And when a major incident does occur, it gets a lot of attention and there is a lot of soul searching to figure out why the event occurred and how to prevent a future event.

As we read the stories about more mass shootings in the United States and see the video clips of anguished people grieving the tragic events we feel as if we are very far away. We are in a very quiet part of Japan. Outside of the noise of the jets operating from the Air Base, there aren’t many loud sounds here. Each day I walk the dog to the songs of birds and the sounds of nature. I feel very safe and feel like my grandson is being raised in a very safe place.

Of course having a one-month-old baby has changed our daughter and son in law’s sleeping patterns. One day last week our daughter made a comment about wondering when things returned to normal. We assured her that they don’t. When a baby is born into your family, everything changes. You learn to sleep when you can and you learn to get by with less sleep. The little one rarely sleeps for more than three or four hours without needing care and attention and it isn’t uncommon for a parent to have to be up with the baby three or four times in a night. Both parents are a bit sleep deprived. As grandparents, we sleep through the night uninterrupted, but we can remember the days when we had babies in our home.

I’ve never been the best of sleepers. I often rise in the night to write my journal or read a bit before returning to bed. When we had babies in our home, I took my turn at rising and changing the little ones. I knew how to warm a bottle and feed a baby with my eyes half open. I think that those days were the time in my life when I was the most tired. I learned to fall asleep at the drop of a hat whenever there was quiet. I’m still a good napper.

In recent years I have read several books by authors who intentionally came to Japan for quiet and reflection. They learned to meditate and to live in quiet places. The quiet gave them an opportunity to reflect on their lives and to make changes that allowed them to take a bit of the change of pace back to their homes. They wrote books which others like me bought in order to figure out changes in our own lives. Our two trips to Japan have focused on family. We came here because our daughter and exchange daughter live here. But it does seem appropriate to me that I have been given the gift of this particular trip at this phase of my career. I will return to nine months of intense work before ending my call to the church I now serve. My future does involve a change of pace as I move on from the role of senior pastor. I don’t know for sure what the future holds, but my life will be less defined by work when I begin to collect my annuity and live a less public life. I know that being in Japan is teaching me lessons.

We’re a bit ahead of the folks back home, but it is very early on Sunday morning here. It is the day of our grandson’s baptism and I have been invited to officiate at that sacrament, so I have a bit of a role as a worship leader. I am not, however, in charge of an entire worship service. My mind goes to those who will be leading worship at home. It is always a bit strange for me to think of our congregation worshiping without me. But I don’t have to do anything. Care and planning have been done. The church will get along without me. I can worship without being in charge.

And I am in a very quiet place to get some sleep. At a bare minimum, I can return home rested from this adventure.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!