Tsunami: Japan

This morning, I watched some youtube videos of the tsunami in Japan. In one, taken from a helicopter, a regiment of waves marched forward in straight white uniformed lines, like the earth’s own special forces coming to its rescue. And like a knife spreading soft butter on a bagel, it smeared its surface clean. Houses, cars, buildings, people, tossed like toys into a stew of garbage. A revelation of garbage. All this stuff, garbage. And this horrible stew, this stink, just the first rinse. She will wash herself clean.

I considered myself in that garbage. As that garbage. One minute, I’m on the computer obsessing about my friggin’ stupid blog when I hear a rumbling in the distance. It’s a noise I don’t recognize, a stampede of hungry giants. Huh? More construction? But before I can swallow the question, the noise grows exponentially and I think, yay! The aliens are here! Then the trees outside my window suddenly crack, fall, get knocked low behind the knees, buckle. A window in the back smashes. There is a terrible wind in the house. A terrible slapping wet wind. Where’s Chulo? Cyrille–

And then, I am just a part of the stew, too. Part of the human garbage stew. Silenced with the tvs and billboards in a roar of waves. The earth mother has vomited all over me in an attempt to expunge the virus I have become to her. She needs to rid herself of me and Heineken bottles, of me and chemicals, of me and books, yes, even those, of me and computers, of me and plastic, of me and my ideas, of me and cars and flytraps and Doritos with a capital D. Of me and toilet paper and hair products and too many sandwiches gone to waste. Of me. Of me and my mother and my condo and my Le Cruset pots and pans and my facebook friends and my actual friends and my saved cds and my little bags of money.

She will replant her crystal sages back into their caves, away from the sun where they can sleep and grow. She will take care of herself again, like a divorced woman coming into her own without his money. She will take her children back. She will take her temperature. She will even take our garbage back and wipe her big beautiful black and blue ass with it. It is all hers. Never ours. Never ours to take. Only to borrow and replenish.

With the decimation of indigenous cultures, we killed ourselves. We forgot the wisdom of praising and giving to the earth, giving back in full measure to what was taken. We forgot to make sure all got fed. We forgot that houses are meant to be rebuilt every so often, more often than is convenient, for the cost of building a house meant to last forever does more damage to the earth than it is worth and costs too damn much in terms of what has to be given back. The indigenous version of Cost Benefit Analysis. We forgot that there are certain gazes held by certain beings from whom we cannot hide. We forgot that the earth is our mother-queen/father-king and made it into our slave.

And she will take us back into her watery breast. And we will cry like children again.


2 responses to “Tsunami: Japan

  • Ken Ludden

    When the tree is selected from which will be carved the ancestral figure to be used in the ritual celebration of generations, of a bountiful earth, of justice and community, the first act is to pray. Pray to the spirit of the plant, pray to mother nature, pray to the elements, pray to the spirit of the ancestor the figure will embody. And then the artist/priest begins the task of carving, all the while asking the tree permission to use its body for Divine purpose. And the carving is done while the grandchildren of the ancestor sit in silent vigil, dance in celebration, tone in prayer to that spirit. And the carving is finished as hands drenched with mud and blood of chickens and beasts rub their mixture into a rich patina, the oils from the hands themselves making the preservative to allow the statue to last and fulfill its purpose. And then the final prayer is done by all – “Oh great and mighty tree, Oh spirit of life, Oh guardian spirits, Oh ancestors: please sanctify this carving; imbue it with your spirit, your blessings, to watch over us, protect us, honor the earth and be subservient to mother nature so we might flourish.” And then the final prayer: “Oh great and mighty tree, we ask your forgiveness for making you give your life so we might be protected in ours. We give you our thanks for your sacrifice.” And the final cut is made, separating the statue at its base from the tree, killing the tree.


    And all is quiet in the temple, as monks sit in a circle around the artist. Praying to Buddha to become protector of the village. Praying to Buddha to provide for the village. Praying to Buddha to watch over and bring stability and justice to the village. Light comes in from high windows above, as dust and mist of debris from the creation process floats ghostly wisps through the air, glittering with specks of gold in the light of the Buddha. And Buddha smiles. For weeks and months, as the great statue of Buddha takes shape, and the monks of the village and from the high temple sit in prayer that this work of art may be inhabited by the spirit of the Buddha. When finished the statue is established in the new temple, giving hope to citizens, protection to children, safe haven to the lost, and comfort to the pained.

    The priestess and her followers walk for miles to the grotto, carrying papyrus, tincture of squid ink, ground minerals to fine powders. An amphora of oil, the mallets to beat the papyrus into final shape, and the rubbing stone. Rags of linen are in the basket carried by the young novice. All arrive at the Grotto, where in the entrance is the carved monolith of the Oracle, of Gaia, of Hercules, of Zeus. The offerings made in pre-dawn light before the pilgrimage so that the Gods be placated, and allowances made. All is ready. The pounded papyrus is held in place, and the oily ink mixture sits in the pestle, amphora now empty of its burden. The rag is moistened with the ink and lightly applied, evenly to the surface. Then the rubbing stone is taken by the priestess and as she works in sensual, rotating, ever-expanding circular patterns the image from the stone is transferred to the papyrus. The dark indigo, midnight blue, or rich henna hue takes its cue to create the image of magnificence. The likeness of the God, the bringer of the truth, the equalizer of all justice. The finished rubbing from the temple, grotto, tomb, monolith is stretched to dry. Other rags are applied to the surface to absorb excess ink without any lateral movement to disturb the sacred image lest the process begin again. And at last, carried to the temple, palace, hearth is a work of art, to adorn and bring meaning to a place of man.
    — Macedonia

    And now, in this age, with all of our advantages, how do we honor our art?

  • Marin

    What a breathtaking response to a horrible event. Thank you for sharing it.

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