Appreciate everything

Subete ni orei wo suru. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

全 (Subete) means “everything.” The top lines of this character represent a mountain and the lines below represent a round marble. Together, it symbolizes a completely polished marble.

礼 (Rei) means “to bow with deep appreciation.” The left side represents a divine altar and the right side represents a person who is bowing with deep appreciation.

It is easy to appreciate life when things are good and we have success. It is more difficult to access this gratitude during times of struggle or hardship. Even in the good times, we may forget to give thanks for the “ordinary” things, such as our ability to breathe, eat and walk. When was the last time you took a moment to appreciate these things?

Subete ni orei wo suru. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

I would like to share a story with you about a Konko minister’s wife. The minister was working at the Konko seminary school as a teacher. He had begun to have some disagreements with the other instructors and soon refused to return to work. He stayed home and barely left his bed for a whole month. Meanwhile, his wife continued to care for their three small children. After a few weeks, she became frustrated and took out her anger on them.

She felt guilty about this and went to the Konko headquarters for toritsugi mediation with the Konko head minister (Konko-sama). When it was her turn, she told Konko-sama, “My husband has refused to go to work and I am getting so frustrated!” Rather than give her advice, Konko-sama replied with a few questions. He asked, “Do you cook? Do you clean your house and wash your clothes?” She thought to herself, “Of course I do! What is he talking about? I have small children. I have to finish these tasks everyday!”

Without waiting for her verbal reply, Konko-sama continued, “As you cook and clean and wash, do you appreciate the soap and water? While you do your chores, do you pray for the health and happiness of your family members?” Konko-sama continued, “I try to express appreciation for my life as soon as I wake up. I also take a moment to thank my friends and family who take care of me. I also thank Kami-sama for his blessings, and nature for its miracles. I do this and still do not feel it is enough.”

The wife listened, but was unclear about what Konko-sama was actually saying and wasn’t sure how this would get her husband to go back to work. However, she decided that she had tried everything else, so she would begin to practice devoted appreciation to everything around her during her day. She found herself more peaceful and calm and less frustrated. Her husband must have noticed how quiet it had become in the house.

After one day of wholeheartedly feeling appreciative toward everything she interacted with, her husband surprised her. “I am going to go back to work today!” he said. She was shocked. She hurried off to the headquarters to tell Konko-sama. He smiled and said, “See!” and that was all.

She realized the importance of feeling and expressing one’s deep appreciation for everything. It is so easy to forget about the “little things” and take for granted all the amazing blessings and miracles we receive each day. Sometimes we get distracted by big ideas or our own ambition, but without gratitude, true peace and happiness is difficult to accomplish. Please practice your appreciation and see how things change for you!

Rev. Masato Kawahatsu is a minister at the Konko Church of San Francisco and Konko Center of South San Francisco, who teaches shodo (Japanese calligraphy). He can be reached at konkosf2@sbcglobal.net or (415) 517-5563. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei News.

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