お礼 (Orei) means “appreciation.” The left side of this character represents an altar and the right side represents a person who is bowing.

実践 (Jisen) means “take action.” The first character’s top lines represent the roof of a house and below, the lines represent a treasure chest. The second character’s left side represents a foot and the right side represents spears. We take action like war, by walking toward our goal with weapons in hand.

Though the symbolism of this character may seem aggressive with the thought of spears, you can consider action in many ways. A positive way to act is by showing your appreciation by saying thank you, or through your physical attitude, writing a thank you card, giving gifts and other ways.

I would like to share a story I read in a Japanese newspaper with you. Ms. S was a 14-year-old who mysteriously fell ill one day. Her doctor gave her penicillin and she recovered. Her mother always reminded her, “Without penicillin, you would not be alive today.” Ms. S began to think deeply on this and wanted to know more about the person who discovered penicillin. After some research, she learned that an English doctor named Alexander Fleming had discovered penicillin.

Unfortunately, he had died five years prior, so she decided to find a way to put flowers on his grave. She wrote to his wife and explained her gratitude and her request to put flowers on Mr. Fleming’s grave with the money she had enclosed.
Mrs. Fleming responded, thanking her for her kind note and said she would purchase flowers for Mr. Fleming’s grave with the money. Ms. S was overjoyed at receiving a response; she invited Mrs. Fleming to Japan in 1964 so that she could enjoy the Olympics. It was an exciting time since it was the first time Japan was hosting the Olympic games and this story made it into the newspapers.

Every day, we receive support both big and small from those around us, Kami/God/Buddha and the world. How can we express our appreciation to all those who help us? The Konko founder once said, “Even if you offer all your worldly treasures to Kami, Kami would not want them. Kami would be happiest if you helped to save other people around you.”

What are ways that you show true appreciation to those around you? Think about how you can truly show your appreciation to Kami, the earth, and your community and share your thoughts with me!

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 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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