I read Mayumi Oda's book, I Opened the Gate, Laughing, An Inner Journey, and I feel deeply touched.
As a child, she had to leave Tokyo during WWII when it was being bombed. She writes of life when her family returned to the rubble of Tokyo. It shows how children find beauty and play whatever the circumstances.
"For a few years we had very little to eat. Some months we had only sweet potatoes. My mother started to take her beautiful kimonos to nearby farmers in exchange for rice. My grandparents made our Japanese garden into a vegetable patch. All the adults were so busy with survival that we children were often left alone. We did not have any toys except wooden blocks that we had saved from before the war. We mostly played outside.
We also studied outside. My elementary-school days were quite chaotic. There were not enough classrooms, so many classes were held outside and called Blue Sky Classrooms. I remember my afternoon math class under the wisteria trellis. I could not concentrate on multiplication tables. I just sat there watching the flower petals being blown by the May wind.
A persimmon tree covered the backyard. When I felt sad and lonely, I used to climb the tree and put my arms around its trunk. Sometimes the tree felt more like a mother to me than my real mother. It was always there when I needed it. In spring it blossomed with fragrant, white flowers with pointed petals like folded origami. In autumn when the tree lost its leaves it was covered with orange persimmons whose weight bent the branches. All the neighborhood children climbed our tree and feasted on its bright fruit. It seemed the sweetest thing that we had ever tasted."
Later, Mayumi Oda comes to Green Gulch and Muir Beach. She sees cabbage and lettuce spreading their leaves, "revealing mandalas of the field." She speaks of how interdependent we are, especially in our food. It is lovely to think of this as we partake of food this Thursday, as we feast even more than usual and celebrate all we have to thank. My life is rich. My cornucopia overflows with gifts. May yours do the same.