Japanese Pottery

and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

My friend Natsumi asked me what I thought about non-Christians and the first thing that came out of my mouth was, “We are all created in the image of God”. Just like a ceramic pot permanently has the imprint of the potter, all people have God’s image engraved in them.
I studied abroad last Spring in the island of Japan, home of Hello Kitty and AKB48. More importantly home to an amazing woman who despite all odds has learned to serve. Her name is Mieko and she is my Japanese Momma. Throughout my short stay in her home Mieko-san fed me spectacular food, did my laundry, cleaned my room and kept me sane. Every evening I’d come home from school and we’d fit the broken pieces of my Japanese with her broken English. I learned that she once ran all around Mt Fuji and often competed in marathons.
These days there’s not much time for races and her quick feet are needed around the house. After a sudden illness, Mieko-san’s husband requires her daily care. While I dressed for school, Mieko-san would prepare my breakfast and while I drank Miso soup, she’d pureed my host dad’s veggies in the blender. She’d guide my host father with the spoon.
Most nights after dinner I’d watch TV with them. My dad’s silence broke with funny Japanese commercials; my momma’s hands found my dad’s. Often I saw her taking his tired body from the wheelchair. Her small and able muscles lifting him and tucking him into the bed, and I saw Christ. I pray one day Mieko-san will see the beautiful illustration God paints with her life. Mieko-san daily laid her life down for her husband. In the same way, Christ gave everything up and made himself a servant out of love for us. Through the Holy Spirit, I want to encourage believers everywhere to model Christ’s example. We are clay jars and to our Maker be all the glory.

Splinters for Splendor

for Thomas
Moonlight gathers us around the stage.
Forecast-ed rain decides that it won’t fall.
We sing for a hero worthy of praise.
“Come down!” we call to him “and heal us all.

We bring only worries, shame and mistakes.
Please trade us,” we beg, “our burdens for joy.
We’re dead tired of the pain. Who will break
down darkness and our enemy destroy?

“He’s heard us!” a girl shouts and points. Eyebrows
raised, we spot our hero covered in filth.
“It’s finished.” A last breath. A spear plowed
through the dead man clothed in blood and our guilt.

Now what? More than a week has passed. We’re doomed.
Risen? I doubt it. He walks in the room.

Sanbika

Song of Songs 1:2

Rika noticed when you pushed back
your chair and dug your jeaned-knees
into the gravel.  The fire in the backyard
                             now inside your bones
“What’s that?”  I tell her anyone can write
a worship song. Just like anyone can
write a love song. But you need to be
in love.

Road Less Traveled

The road wasn’t really a road. It was a cross between a driveway and a front yard. There was a white pickup truck parked in behind the flower beds. The gate was not locked so we walked right in without a problem.
My aunt had warned me not to visit Luisa. She was crazy but hadn’t always been that way. I would have come sooner, but I didn’t know which house was hers. Finally my cousin Fernanda decided she would take me. She had a smirk on her face like she was ready for some entertainment. I was smiling, too.
From what I had heard Luisa wasn’t a bench warmer. She was a warrior. She used to ring the church bell everyday before the evening rosary and lead the prayers. One day, there was no bell. Everyone gathered in front of the church; the silence worried them. They thought Luisa might have died. It was much worse.
“My son is coming to give you an explanation.”
They had heard about Rafael. He was there to light a fire under their rears. He had no place in the town. He knew nothing.
“We won’t see him!” They shouted. She left for home.
Luisa didn’t know what to do. She understood their apprehension. She remembered the day she had brought Rafa’s bibles to the town priest who condemned them. Luisa had proceeded to making a bonfire in the front yard, but she kept one of the books. She decided to read it.
The next thing Luisa knew the well beside her house opened like a tomb and she was born again. She wanted the whole town to experience the forgiveness and peace from Jesus Christ, but no one would listen. She couldn’t stop talking about it. Everyone believed she had gone insane.
Shriveled like a raisin and hunched over in the sun, I found my great Tia Luisa. She had already lost most of her hearing and could barely see the flowers she watered. Her tilted watering can poured out every drop and never seemed to stop.

This post was inspired by a prompt from a fellow blogger,  kellie elmore.  Click the image for the full prompt.

L’Hôpital’s Rule and Vanessa the High School Senior

For the first time in my life I owned a graphing calculator, bright pink. My friend Leo had leased it to me. I named it Aeneas and tucked it into my purple back back. During religion class, I patted my bag like a new puppy. I couldn’t wait for the bell to ring. Sister Mary Bridget reminded us that we needed fresh notebooks and blue ballpoint pens. I tapped my feet anxiously. The bell rang and I bolted to my locker.
With a swish and swap, I switched the books. My locker door slammed behind me. I was the first one in the door, already seated with Aeneas beside me before Mr. Frisby even remembered he had to teach third period. I had been waiting 17 years, the sum of my entire life, for this moment. I couldn’t believe I had finally arrived and nothing could ruin my bliss.
Unfortunately, I had failed to calculate the arrival of David Mendoza into the equation.
“Vane-chan!” Since he started taking Japanese, David insisted on adding “chan” to the end of every girl’s name and calling all his professors “sensei”.
“David.” Vanessa had intended for it to be a cold yet indifferent greeting. David took it as an invitation to chat.
“How was your summer?” David chimed, “Do anything fun?”
“Nah.” Vanessa looked down at Aeneas. I’m sorry, She telepathied an apology to her acute pet. David sat down next to them as if unaware of the twenty six other empty seats in the room.
David set his books down unaware that he was interrupting. After three years of attending the same high school, Vanessa had mastered the art of tuning David out. At the moment he was listing the classes he had this semester. David wanted to be an astronaut; Vanessa wished she could send him to Mars early.
David stopped mid-sentence and stood up quickly as Mr. Frisby walked into the class room.
“Good morning, Frisby Sensei.” David bowed sharply.
“Morning,” Mr. Frisby said. He barely seemed to notice David’s peculiar behavior.
Several more students began to filter into the room. The bell rang and Mr. Frisby closed the door behind a group of slackers. They shuffled into the empty seats. The students totaled eighteen and sat in the first three rows. Mr. Frisby didn’t take attendance. He jumped right into the first lesson.
TBC…

My day on a pirate ship

We have a parrot now. He came with a boat load of toys and speaking Español. So we named him Rico. He lost most of his feathers in a sword fight and now he can’t fly. We’re thinking of sending him to my sister Katrina who lives in the southern suburbs of Chicago, but we’re afraid he’ll get sea sick along the way.
Thank goodness Captain Cooper finally decided to take swimming lessons. After our last incident with the rubber ducky, he refused to come on deck. Now, everyone knows that Cooper isn’t a real pirate. He doesn’t even have an eye patch and Rico refuses to stand on his shoulder.
Everything would be fine if it weren’t for the lice infestation on board. Oh, we also found out the ship has termites, and our next voyage must me canceled. So much for treasure hunts.