Appreciating silent things

Mugon no mono eno kansha calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

無言 (Mugon) means “silent.” The first character’s bottom lines represent fire flames and the lines above symbolize a house and a new life. The house burns and becomes ashes, but new life can grow from it. The second character indicates a person’s face and mouth.

物 (Mono) means “thing.” The left side of this character represents a cow and the right side represents a windsock.

感謝 (Kansha) means “appreciation.” The first character represents fruits, mouth and a heart. The second character represents talking and an arrow.

Once the arrow is shot, it never returns. In the same way, we should take every opportunity to give thanks as the moment may not arise again.

At a youth group event at a Konko Church in Japan, the group leader took a moment to ask the children a question after they had removed their shoes at the entrance of the building (in Japan, people take off their shoes before entering homes and some churches and temples).

“Did you place your shoes neatly?” He asked, “If not, please return to the entrance and straighten your shoes.” After some children went to fix their shoes and had returned, he continued. “You may wear your shoes everyday and take them for granted because they are always there. Can you imagine walking about in the snow in winter, the hot ground in summer or rough streets without them? Your shoes are constantly protecting you, so please remember to treat them with respect and gratitude.”

Many of these children remembered this moment even as they grew up and became teenagers and then adults. They shared this same story with their children. Though our shoes or clothing or household items may not speak like a family member or child, we can still express our appreciation to them and take good care of them.

When I drive, I pray before I turn on my car, during the ride, and right before I get out. I used to get a few driving tickets and had experienced some accidents; this reminded me to always thank my car for getting me from place to place safely. The energy we put out into the world will honestly reflect back onto us. If we are sincere in our intentions and thankful, we will receive the same in return.

What items do you take for granted and how can you remember to express your thanks to their use and presence in your daily life? Let us say, “arigatou gozaimasu” 2,000 or more times a day.

Nichi Bei News columnist 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 or (415) 517-5563. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei News.

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