Thank you for taking care

Osewani narimasu. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

御 (O or on) means “respect or honor.”

世話 (Sewa) means “taking care or help.” The first character represents many generations or many years. The left side of the second character represents a person’s mouth and the right side represents a person’s tongue. Together, the character means taking care for others for many years.

Many Japanese people use often this phrase “osewani narimasu” or “thank you for taking care of me.” This is usually used when someone takes care of or helps you. However, I think that we should not only say this to other humans, but to the items we use, to nature, the universe and our own mind, body and spirit.

This may be a difficult concept, especially if we think that we are able to do everything by our power alone. The truth is that all our accomplishments and success is due to the great collaboration of our own energy with that of the universe and those around us. Therefore, we should always be thankful for the assistance we are constantly receiving for anything we do.

I once read a story about a person who collapsed from heart failure. Since his heart had stopped working, a doctor put him on a special treatment to keep his heart pumping for four days. Ultimately, he passed away and when the family went to release the body from the hospital, they were charged $4,000 for the treatment.

If we calculate that cost over one year, it would be $365,000 to maintain our heartbeat for 365 days. For 10 years, it would cost over $3.6 million. Though this amount may shock us, we take it for granted that each day, we continue to live with our heart beating along inside of us, mostly free of cost.

Think about if we had to pay for the functioning of all of our organs! I think if we approached our body in this manner, we would not take it for granted. Let us express our deep appreciation by saying,

“Thank you very much (arigatou gozaimasu), congratulations (omedetou gozaimasu) and thank you for taking care (osewani narimasu).”

While we practice saying thank you to our bodies and to those around us, we should also remember to thank the Divine Parent of the Universe (Kami/God) for allowing us to live in these physical forms on earth among the plants, animals, Earth and ocean.

During this spring season, as baby animals are born and plants and flowers bloom, please take this opportunity to say, “osewani narimasu to Kami.”

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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