This is a touching story that grew out of monumental tragedy. It is riddled with sadness. Why would we choose to cozy up with such sadness? Why not steer clear if we have the chance?
One important reason is that sadness can help us to connect with our tender hearts. It is our tender-heartedness that opens us to life and softens our day-to-day veneer. It is our tender-heartedness that reminds us of essential things, such as life and death, and the importance of lovingkindness.
Atsushi Chiba is the hero of this story. Without such heartbreaking conditions, he may not have tapped into the ocean of compassion that was within him. He may not have known it was there.
Take a few moments to learn about the love and generosity that he demonstrated. His honor and magnanimity, his commitment and decency, are a gift to us all. May we remember and be inspired by his goodness when we stumble upon hardship and tragedy in our own lives or those of others. When our hearts are tender, the distinction between strangers and family doesn’t hold up too well. Or rather, we all become family. It is one of the blessings of deep and profound sorrow.
Linda Anderson Krech, LICSW, is Program Director of the ToDo Institute and has been a frequent contributor to Thirty Thousand Days. She is the author of Little Dreams: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Parenting and has been teaching Japanese Psychology for over 20 years.