"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Memories of MUM - Message from Hiroshima Peace Park

    Today I will be one of those speaking at Hiroshima's Peace Park as we dedicate the memorial to my mother, Barbara Reynolds, for her humanitarian help to survivors of the first two nuclear bombs dropped on people.
     Here is the English translation of what I will be saying. (Japanese follows.)

     Honored guests, hibakusha (nuclear bomb survivors), members of the World Friendship Center, friends, and family:
     We consider it a privilege to meet with you today. My husband Jerry and I have come from California and my nephew Tony, one of Barbara's grandsons, has come from Texas. We also represent my brothers, Barbara's sons Tim and Ted Reynolds, her other eight grandchildren, (8 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandsons) who, although they were unfortunately unable to attend, send their greetings.
     We are here at the invitation of the Monument Committee to unveil a monument to my mother, who would have been 96 years old today. To me, it is amazing that the hibakusha of the nuclear bomb dropped by Americans would erect a monument to an American woman at their Ground Zero. I am so humbled by your forgiveness and desire to do this.
     Many people whose lives have been touched by my mother's life call her a saint, even a "national treasure."  But my mother would have been the first to say she was just an imperfect human being.     
     In September, 1964, my mother was 49 years old, reeling from the pain of divorce. My father had married another woman. My brother Ted had just gotten married. I had gone back to the United States. So she was alone. A friend of hers, a Buddhist priest, gave her permission to come to the temple on Mt. Rokko to spend time alone in meditation, fasting, and prayer. There, for a week, she lamented her failure to hold her marriage together and with loud cries to heaven questioned her purpose for living.
     My mother believed in the God who is above all other gods. This God is not the work of our hands; we are the work of His hands. He has created us in His own image. She knew Him as Creator and powerful controller of the universe.
     But until that week she did not know Him as a personal, living heavenly Father. At the end of that week, the heavenly Father spoke to her heart and told her that He loved her and forgave her. Her tears turned to tears of joy and peace. Then He revealed to my mother that His purpose for her was to take His love back to Hiroshima and show the hibakusha how much He loves them by serving them.
     Years before, my father had been part of a team sent by the American government to study the effects of radiation on Hiroshima hibakusha--to draw their blood and measure their height and weight and photograph them. But no one had asked them, "What was it like to experience an atomic bomb?" No one had listened to them or cried with them. Now, in obedience to her heavenly Father, my mother went back to Hiroshima, despite her sense of personal shame, to listen to them and serve them, to be God's hands and feet and voice. Out of her humility and obedience bloomed the World Friendship Center.
     She was not only a voice from the heavenly Father to the hibakusha. Hibakusha told her they considered her a voice for Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the world. She took that responsibility very seriously. And as she came to know them, they taught her the value of each life. She came to respect the brave, suffering, patient survivors of the first two nuclear bombs dropped on human beings. She began to identify with them and hurt for them. And so she said, "I, too, am a hibakusha." She wanted to accurately convey to the world their message, "No more Hiroshimas!" to urge everyone on the planet to choose peace and prevent the horror and catastrophe of Hiroshima from happening to anyone else, ever.
     Since 1945, starting in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the number of people exposed to the poison of radiation has grown through Chernobyl, Three-Mile Island and now Fukushima. Radiation does not distinguish between war and peace. Radiation from nuclear weapons keeps killing after the war is over, even affecting DNA and thus hurting later generations. Radiation from nuclear reactors causes increased numbers of lethal cancers in those who live near them, whether there are accidents in the reactors or not. We are here to assure all radiation-exposed people anywhere that we will not forget your distress. We will pass your message on from generation to generation: "No More Hiroshimas! No More Nagasakis! No more Fukushimas!"
     As you unveil this monument, my mother is just a symbol. She is a symbol of love, pointing to the source of love, the heavenly Father. She is a symbol of hope because anyone of us who humbles himself to listen to the "still, small voice" of our Heavenly Father can make a mighty difference.
     Thank you for honoring my mother in this way.











No comments:

Post a Comment