A letter from Sendai

At this time of nearly unspeakable calamity in Japan, words emanating from within the country are precious. Today, a colleague alerted me to the following, A letter from Sendai, published today in Ode Magazine. It is written by a woman I don’t know, Anne Thomas – a gaijin living in Japan – and it eloquently and movingly captures a profound moment – a confluence of local and global, resilience and acceptance, sharing and generosity, healing and hope – when personal concerns are transcended and our intrinsic oneness is recognized and appreciated, even cherished and celebrated, through a recovery of the simplicity on the other side of complexity. I hope you are as inspired by this letter as I was.

A letter from Sendai

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend’s home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

It’s utterly amazingly that where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.”

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.

We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.

They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and Love of me,

With Love in return, to you all,

Wondering how you can help? Aid relief efforts by clicking here to donate to the Japanese Red Cross, or text redcross to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

posted by Anne Thomas on 3/14/2011 11:30 am

© Ode Magazine USA, Inc. and Ode Luxembourg 2009 (further information in Privacy & Copyright)

6 responses to this post.

  1. Beautiful Alan, thanks for sharing it.


  2. Posted by susan on March 16, 2011 at 10:48 am

    What grace the people of Japan are showing. Hopefully the rest of the world learns something of how to live in cooperation by watching and reading these stories.

    Blessings to all,
    Susan from Texas


  3. Thank you Alan for this letter with beautiful deep insight and now to sustain it in the face of radiation leakage and nuclear catastrophe…but I have come to have a deep love and respect for the people of Japan and I feel they will prevail against this most unnatural, unprecedented event of nuclear meltdown.

    I think of you often and send you the best. We will be going to the site you suggested to leave a donation.


  4. Japanese people, be rest-assured that you are in on our minds and in our hearts.

    Susan from Texas, I agree: In her poignant letter Anne portrays the noble traits the Japanese possess which I have always admired. That their dignity would hold up in the face of this horrendous event, the frequent aftershocks, and the threatening nuclear situation is something even I could not have imagined.

    Anne mentioned a donation and provided a link. Let me take this opportunity to add a few other options for making donations and some additional information:

    Yahoo just put this list of organizations together to which to donate:
    “Japan earthquake and tsunami: How to help”

    I found Amazon the quickest way to donate:
    “American Red Cross: Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami”

    This link contains message boards and people finder websites:

    As if we/they didn’t have enough: This National Geographic article is not for the faint-hearted”:
    “Japan Earthquake Not the “Big One”?” Megaquake long predicted—but in totally different region

    Alan, I am so grateful to your colleague for sending you this most inspiring letter and for you to follow up and post it.

    It is true, then, what they say: that every cloud has a silver lining….


  5. Posted by whitedove on March 16, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Blessings to All the people in Japan….if i could make one wish it would be for us All to live in a world of peace …caring & Sharing..rather than waiting for tragedy to strike…for we are All Connected to the source..We are One!..Our thoughts & prayers are with YOU!…Blessings..<3..


  6. You might be interested in further fascinating log entries by Anne Thomas in Sendai. Thank goodness she decided to stay….

    “Signs of hope in Sendai”

    “A spirit of endurance in Japan”

    “Deciding to stay in Sendai”

    Her blog at Ode Magazine online:


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