Posts Tagged ‘Hiroshima Peace Park’

Last Tuesday I was walking through Belmore Park in Sydney with a friend on our way to an important meeting, when we noticed a high school student carrying a whole basket of brightly coloured origami paper cranes. We wondered what she might be planning to do with them, but as we walked a little further, we came across a large group of students with several baskets of cranes lined up along the walkway through the park. In front of each was a box for donations and a sign explaining this was part of the ‘Cranes for Hope’ project of the young people of Sydney to make 10,000 paper cranes and in this way raise at least $10,000 for the earthquake victims of Japan.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and we were early for our meeting. So we spent some time delving through the baskets, finding different coloured cranes and ones made of pretty, patterned paper. We bought quite a few – we wanted to support this project and also encourage the friendly students. But there was more behind our interest as well – and that involves two more stories.

Many of you may already know the story of the young Japanese girl Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and the book of that title written by Eleanor Coerr. Sadako Sasaki developed leukemia as a result of radiation from the atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima during World War Two. While in hospital, she decided to make a thousand little paper cranes, since according to a Japanese saying, this meant any wish she made would be granted. Her wish was to live, but she died after having made only 644, so her friends and family finished the project on her behalf. Today, there is a statue of Sadako in Hiroshima Peace Park, holding a golden origami crane and on the statue are the words: ‘This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on earth.

But my second story is just as moving, in my opinion. You see, five years ago, my friend’s daughter passed away – we were actually on our way to attend a meeting linked to this sad event. At the time, her daughter had a Japanese penfriend who, on hearing her Australian friend was ill, decided to make a thousand paper cranes and send them to her. I was present at my friend’s place the day they arrived – some time after her daughter had passed away. It was such a touching gift, conveying as it did this Japanese friend’s love through the hours she had spent making the little origami birds, not knowing her penfriend had already passed away. And to this day, the paper crane remains a symbol in my friend’s family of their beautiful daughter, for all the love they had for each other and all she stood for.

Can you imagine how blown away we were to come across these baskets of paper cranes then on our very way to our important meeting? Surely this was a gracious gift from God to encourage my friend as she prepared for the potentially traumatic meeting ahead. And for me, this reinforced some words I had read in Psalm 46 earlier that morning:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. … “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Truly, our God knows and understands our anguish and reaches out constantly to comfort and encourage us. May you find that so true in your own life this day in just the way you need.

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