Making Our Ears Attentive to Words

by Ohara Muneo, pastor EsashiChurch, Ou District Ou District Moderator

We are approaching our second Christmas since that fateful day. We are saved by Jesus, and having entered into God’s love, we live day by day in joy. And no matter what kind condition we are in, by the invitation we receive from the Lord Jesus, we have the privilege of assembling in worship, reading the Bible, and gathering for prayer meetings.

But since the earthquake that happened at2:46the afternoon ofMarch 11, 2011, everyone has become completely silent. The more we seek for words, the more our experience becomes something that cannot be voiced. While puzzling about what to say, first of all I began to make my ears attentive, drawing close to the situation by becoming silent and listening.

A man in his late 50s asked, “Why wasn’t I swallowed up by the tsunami with the others?” As he cried, he spoke little by little about the circumstances. “My mother had an injured back, so after the great earthquake, I carried her on my back as I ran. I hurried towards the high ground of the park that had been designated as a shelter area. I ran and ran, finally reaching the bottom of the stone steps. By holding onto the railing, I had finally reached the top when the tsunami overtook me. The height there was about 2.7 meters above the road. Though out of breath, I had climbed step by step, relying on the railing. Supporting my mother with one hand, I grasped the railing with my other hand. At the moment when the tsunami came I had strength in both of my hands. My right hand was grasping the metal railing, but my mother was carried away by the withdrawing wave. I had not relaxed the grip of my left hand, but my mother was pulled off my back by the wave. I was saved by the railing, but my mother was pulled loose from my hand. I could not save my mother,” he said repeatedly.

A friend in his 40s said: “I was walking with a friend through the town ofKamaishi. A big metal company, the Nippon Steel Corporation, is located there. Along the road, the company has a protective wall about 2.5 meters high, with a fence above that, along the top. The tsunami came while we were walking along that wall. My body rose to the surface, and without thinking, I grasped the fence with my left hand. Since I was tightly holding onto the fence, I was not swept away by the withdrawing wave. But my friend, who had been walking shoulder-to-shoulder with me, was not able to reach the fence because I was in his way,” he told me. He was saying that if he had not been in that place, his friend would have been able to reach the fence with his hand and perhaps would have been saved. There is no more bitter thought than “if I had not been there.”


However, numerous persons among those who survived hold the same kind of thought. For that reason, not one survivor listening to a story thinks, “Oh, it’s good that I survived!” Being a survivor is a bitter experience, because the survivors are questioning, “Why that person and not me?”


What kind of advice can you give to a person like this? I was not able to give any. I could only listen silently while thinking: “What would the Lord Jesus do in this situation?” I could only offer a listening ear. The next time we met, it was essentially the same. I could only shed tears together with him or, while sipping tea together, continue to listen silently. That was the case not only at the beginning when, of course, it had to be that way, but even now after a year and a half, it is still the same. Undoubtedly, as a minister, I should probably say to each person in that situation, “God has seen fit for you to survive,” communicating consolation and encouragement. Whether you say it is fortunate or no matter what else you might say—either way, even now, all we can do is provide a listening ear.

When wrestling with grief, it is said that really crying or sobbing is important. Everyone goes through hardships, no matter what the person’s position in life. But when grieving people are able to find someone who will cry together with them, shedding tears of anguish and pain, they are healed.

The words of the hymn “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne,” number 443 in the Kyodan’s Hymnal 21, well up in me during these times of continuing to draw closer together. “Oh, come to my heart Lord Jesus, come. There is room in my heart for Thee.” I continue to pray from my heart that together with those who have begun to speak in the midst of their hardships, we may welcome the Lord Jesus, for whom there was no room so he was laid in a manger. (Tr. RMT)



あの時から2回目のクリ スマスを迎えます。イエスさまによって私たちは救われて、神様の愛の中に入れられて喜んで毎日毎日を生活しています。そしてどんな状況に おかれても、主イエスの招きを受けて、礼拝に集まり、聖書を読む会・祈祷会に集うことが許されています

でもあの3月11日午後2時46分の地震以降、みんな黙ってしまいました。何を言おうかと捜せば捜すほど声にならないもの です。

何を語るか悩みつつ、私 は、耳を傾け、ジッと黙って聞くことで寄り添うことをまずはじめました。

ある50代後半の男性で す。なぜ一緒に津波に呑み込まれなかったか。その状況を涙しながらポツリポツリ話しました。「大地震の後、腰を抜かしていた母さんを背 負って走りました。避難所の指定となっている公園の高台まで急ぎました。走って、走ってやっと石段の下につき、手摺を持ってやっと石段の 上についた時、津波に追いつかれました。その高さは道路から2メートル70センチくらいです。息切れする中、一段一段と手摺を頼りに上っ たのです。片手で母さんを抑えながら、片手は手摺を握っていました。津波の瞬間右手も左手も力を入れていました。右手は鉄の手摺を握った ままでしたが、引き波で母さんがさらわれた。左手の力を抜いたのではない。背中の母さんは波にさらわれた。自分は手摺で助かって、母さん は自分の手から抜けた。母さんを助けられなかった。」と言い続けられます。

40代の友人です。「別 の友人と釜石の町を歩いていました。新日鐵(Nippon Steel Corporation)という大きな製鉄会社があります。その会社は道路から2メートル50センチぐらいの擁壁を積んでその上に フェンスが張ってあります。歩いていた時津波が来て、体が浮き上がったのです。生き残った私はフェンス寄りを歩いていた。だから、自分は 左手がフッとフェンスを掴めた。その為に自分はギューッと掴んだから、自分は引き波に引っ張られていかなかった。でも、自分と一緒に肩を 並べて歩いていた友人は、自分がいたためフェンスに手が届かなかった」というのです。彼は自分がいなければ友人の手はフェンスに届いてい るというのです。自分がいなければ、これほど辛い思いはありません。

でも、何人も何人もの多 くの生き残った人は、みな同じ思いを持っています。その為、話を聴けた生き残った人が、「あぁ、生き残ってよかった」と思っている人は一 人もいません。生き残ったことが辛い。自分でなく、なぜあの人がと問いかけているからです。

このような方にどのよう に声掛けすることができるでしょう。私にはできませんでした。ただ、黙って聞くのみでした。主イエスならどうされるだろうと思いつつ、た だ、黙って聞いて帰るだけです。また次にあった時もほぼ同じです。一緒に涙を流し、あるいは一緒にお茶を啜りながら、聴くという形しかで きないのです。それは当初のことではありません。もちろん当初も同じでしたが、1年半が過ぎた今もなお同じなのです。確かに牧師として、 そういう一人ひとりに対して、「あなたが生き残ることを神は良しとされたのです。」と慰めや励ましを伝えなければならないのでしょう。辛 いといわれても、何と言われても。でもやっぱり今も聴くのみです。悲しみに打ちひしがれる時、本当に涙すること、嗚咽することが大切だよ と。人は誰でも辛い思いをし、その苦しみや痛みを、涙を流して、共に涙を流してくれる人を得て初めて、癒されていきます。そっとそばで涙 することのできることが大切なのです。

この寄り添いを続ける 時、私の中に讃美歌21の443番「冠も天の座 も」の歌詞が沸きあがるのです。「おいでください、イエスよ、ここに、この胸に」

泊める部屋もなく、飼い葉桶に身を横たえられた主イエスを、辛い中で語り始めた方と共に、 お迎えすることを心から祈り続けています。