Sadako and the 1000 Cranes

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

I love it when a plan comes together as it did on Sunday. I also love it when I am working with folks who do what they say they will do with clarity, focus, ease and grace. The folks I am talking about are Pat Bartke, Trish Vogel and Yaeko Collier. Pat brought an idea to the Seasons Team and it was unanimously received; however, it had a lot of moving parts. Pat and Trish teamed up and got it done! If you were at the service on Sunday, you would have been involved in the kick-off for the 5th year of the Season for Nonviolence.

In January 2015 we began the first Season for Nonviolence… and each year since we have expanded and built on what we have previously done. It begins on January 30 and ends on April 4…what do those dates stand for? January 30 is the assassination date of Mahatma Gandhi and April 4 is the assassination date of Martin Luther King Jr… these two men dedicated their lives for nonviolence and died for the cause.

The theme for the message was the story of Sadako and the 1000 cranes. It is a story of a Japanese girl of 11 who was vibrantly alive and an enthusiastic runner who couldn’t sit still and was looking forward to helping her class win a race in her next year of school.

The date is 1954, just 11 years after the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Although many were not directly affected by the bomb, the amount of toxic material was still in the atmosphere and folks were dying from leukemia.

Sadako began to have dizzy spells while running and fearful to tell her parents; she just lived with it until one day she collapsed at school and was taken to the hospital. There she was diagnosed with leukemia. It was devastating for her and her family. Her friend Chizuko cheers her up by folding a crane out of gold paper. Chizuko reminds her of an old legend: If a sick person folds 1,000 paper cranes, the gods will make her well. Sadako is inspired. Once Chizuko teaches her to make the cranes, Sadako works on creating a flock. Her brother helps her hang each bird from the ceiling of her hospital room.

Sadly, however on October 25, 1955, Sadako dies. She had completed 644 cranes and her class went on to complete the remaining 356 so she could be buried with 1000 cranes.

The crane has become a symbol of peace and hope. In 1958, a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was erected in Hiroshima’s Peace Park. A plaque on the statue reads: “This is our cry, this is our prayer, peace in the world.”

Masahiro, Sadako’s brother, hopes we can learn a lesson from Sadako’s short life. He said, “Her death gave us a big goal. Small peace is so important with compassion and delicacy it will become big like a ripple effect. She showed us how to do it. It is my, and the Sasaki family’s responsibility to tell her story to the world. I believe if you don’t create a small peace, you can’t create a bigger peace. I like to gather those good wishes and good will and spread to the world.” The goal is to make sure “that humans never experience that day again,” said Masahiro, board chair of Sadako Legacy.

He’s guided by what President Kennedy said in a speech to the UN General Assembly in 1961 about the potential for destruction posed by nuclear war, “Mankind must put an end to war — or war will put an end to mankind.”

Pat and Trish have created a beautiful bulletin board honoring Sadako and the 1000 cranes. Pat also put together packets with directions and paper, enough to make 25 cranes for folks to take home, make and bring back and they will be strung on our tree in the sanctuary.

As a highlight of the service Yaeko Collier, one of our long-time members and from Japan, gave us a demonstration on making the cranes. It was so much fun… I then saw folks at tables in Unity Hall getting tutored on how to make them. Please, each week return what you have made, and they will be accounted for and strung for the tree.

Should you not make all that you have, please bring back the unused paper for others to take. Let us see how long it takes to get to 1000… our goal is to be there before the Season for Nonviolence is complete.

This Sunday (February 3) I will be starting a series of talks on the book Peace Revolution written by Paul K. Chappell. We will be looking at the Muscle of Hope.

Plan to stay following the service for additional activities: Healing Service, A Course in Miracles and a meeting for the start-up of the Season for the Earth and our Unity gardens.

You are a blessing in my life.
Rev. Patricia Bessey

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