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To the One Who Prays
by Yuu Mizuki
To the one who prays.
Have you already forgotten?
The path that we have traveled,
The path that led us here.
The distance covered, journeying the mountains, ridge after ridge and past the cries of the soul of many.
In this moment, what do you pray?
You know so well, your own powerlessness.
You gain your daily sustenance so effortlessly, go places where you wish freely, and fall asleep without disturbance. But just because this is so, you cannot share that with others, nor have the power to change the circumstance of those living in unknown foreign lands.
The world is covered with war, calamity, and poverty. In that distant place, bullets fly midair and landmines explode. In that distant place, children starve and epidemics fester. In that distant place, blood is shed, people stumble, violence is done. You cannot do anything about that.
The only thing you can do is to gather your thoughts and send your heart.
The only thing you can do is to pray.
The only thing you can do is to send your heart and pray.
So you pray.
As you make music.
As you paint.
As you prepare a meal for your loved one.
As you clean the windowsill and water the potted plant.
You pray, and send your heart.
Fully knowing that nothing will change, knowing you don’t have the power to change anything.
You know there is no hope left in this world, don’t you?
But I still listen.
The forests sing with the birds, and the wind whispers the fragrance of life,
since long before the time we were born.
But in you, something changes.
The one who paints.
The one who sings.
The one who prays.
Blue Sky, White Clouds
by Yuu Mizuki
I want to tell you about the land where I was born.
It’s in the countryside, where the mountains funnel into a valley, and the rivulets gather into a river and flow through the fields. There are small villages and gentle hills, and people have spent a long time working out their coexistence with these hills by creating gardens and rice fields on the slope.
I was born as the magnolias and cherry blossoms were ending and wisteria and princess trees were blooming into purple. The pathway down the skirt of the mountain slope was being painted all yellow with Japanese rose. Snow melted and flowed into the rice fields, and as it reflected the sky and warmed up in the sun, egrets started picking at frogs just having woken up from their hibernation, and children ran down the road alongside the fields while chewing sorrel stalks.
A while after I was born, I moved to a city with my family, but I always remembered the mountains and the fields. As I looked at the swallow’s nest under the edge of the roof, I would think about the skylark chicks I found in the grass in the fields. As I walked around town, I thought about how I would run down the mountainside with the wind. As I was surrounded and teased by the big neighborhood kids, I was alone, thinking about how I used to aim for Japanese trout in the streams.
I don’t regret leaving the village. I had no choice about it, and the city has a life of its own. But in the middle of the night, when I slip out from the backdoor and wander the empty park, my mind would fill with the swirls of light from the newly hatched fireflies, rising from the river in the valley.
Here I am, now, lying in the middle of the city. Under my body is the asphalt, burning hot from the sun. But I no longer feel even that.
As I chased my owner who was leaving to go shopping, a big chunk of steel ran over me and sped away.
What do I hear? Is it my owner’s voice, or the sound of the murmuring brook in the valley? This warm thing on my cheek, is it the owner’s tears or my own blood?
Soon, silence settles.
My body becomes light, and float lightly into the air. I see blue sky and white clouds.
I am headed to my woodland home, to the river and the valley where I was born. I will be buried in the soft soil by the fields, and I will become the woodland.