Beauty is More Powerful than Tragedy
Recently two Japanese men were beheaded by ISIS. The news has stunned this country into greater determination to follow a constructive path of building hope where there seems to be none, of providing humanitarian aide where it is most needed, of trying to forge a path towards peace in this troubled world of ours.
Much progress is indeed being made. But, unfortunately, in some arenas things seem to be almost at a standstill. For example, the initial rush of donations and support has given way to less and less concern and fewer contributions to rebuild this area and people’s livelihoods. Also many, especially older folks, are stuck in temporary complexes.
In light of that, a few citizens’ groups have started making their appearance. They are soliciting signatures for a petition to nudge the government to work faster and more efficiently. They carry banners and place speakers on major shopping streets, announcing their concerns and asking for support.
Adding to efforts toward progress in this Tohoku region, there are many NGOs hard at work, too. Of course, there is the Charity Walk, but there are others as well. One of them is called SAORI. This non-profit is actually nationwide and started long before 03/11. But their chapter in Sendai is doing wonderful work for the recovery here. Essentially, the group is a cluster of women who love to weave. Their products are exquisite art pieces, but are sold at very reasonable prices. “This is our way to uplift the hearts and minds of those who suffer,” they say.
Recently SAORI noticed that contributions to the rebuilding of this area had been slipping, although they are still very needed. So these ladies sponsored a four-day event in Sendai City center. They brought in a group of enthusiastic local singers. And offered their own woven goods for sale.
But in addition to that, they have started an international project. Together with people from all over the world, they are weaving a runner that will be 311 meters long. That specific number is in honor of 03/11, the date that the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami arrived and changed the lives of so many of us forever.
Besides this 311 project, these talented ladies hold weaving classes in their Sendai headquarters. And they also go to temporary housing complexes to work with people there. “We love the symbolism of weaving,” one SAORI member told me. “When we weave, we connect threads. And when we work together with those in need, we connect lives.”
“We see ourselves as the vertical warp threads, upright and strong. We offer others the opportunity to be the woof threads, weaving both with and around us. Together we make beautiful designs. That honors the past with its tragedies, but also blesses the future with its hopes. And of course, there is so much joy in the present, too. That is because we work together as friends to create beautiful pieces of art.”
Indeed, SAORI, the Charity Walk, politically involved individuals, and others like them, are part of the warp and woof of this region now. They are making it more beautiful and hope-filled. This is not only in the physical sense, but also in the mental outlook and inner spirit of all of us who are privileged to call Tohoku home.