Christine Eige, ELCA missionary in Japan, recently experimented with calligraphy. She described the painstaking process:
As I practiced, many times I wished that I had a delete or undo button; one small mistake could mess up the whole picture, and that really started stressing me out. I would start out fine but inevitably make a mistake, get even more frustrated, and then make more mistakes. Finally, I paused long enough to examine the word in front of me: megumi (grace). Then the light bulb above my head suddenly lit up. I was trying so hard to do my calligraphy perfectly, but that’s not how grace works. Grace is God’s free gift of forgiveness that is not based on anything we do. God looks at our mistakes and says, `Of course you can have another chance; Jesus died to take away those sins and mistakes of your past.’
In December, Christine visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and wrote this poem:
ONE MOMENT CHANGES ALL
A flash of light and a booming noise—
Heat and radiation devouring all in its way.
Flesh and clothes melting into one,
parched throats gasping for air,
seeking relief, but instead, finding black rain.
Radiation running rampant through bodies,
vital organs failing one after another,
and so many beyond recovery or care.
A whole world turned upside down,
yet the suffering only just beginning.
“Papa, please help me!
Make the pain go away.
Where are you?
I need you.
Don’t leave me this way.
Where are my little sister, my mama, and friends?
What happened to my home?
When will the nightmares finally end?”
God looks down from heaven,
his heart broken in two.
Jesus opens his arms wide saying,
“Forgive them, Father,
for they know not what they do.”
Christine Eige is an ELCA missionary teaching English in Japan.