As I write, it is Tuesday morning in Nagasaki, and the outer bands of Typhoon Khanun are already bringing rain to the city, and mercifully somewhat cooler temps, though it is yet to be seen what that trade off entails!
Yesterday we began with Mass in the lower chapel of the Cathedral in Hiroshima. Present for these days is the Apostolic Nuncio to Japan, Most Reverend Leo Boccardi, pictured to my right in the photo. The Gospel on the multiplication of loaves was a good reminder that all we seek to accomplish through this Pilgrimage of Peace is ultimately by the Lord’s grace and power.
We then loaded a small bus with our luggage and began the five hour drive to Nagasaki. Along the way we made a lunch stop at something equivalent to our Truck Stops in the US. The food here has been quite good – one of the reasons being they use lots of salt and butter! While it was mostly overcast and raining, we were still able to enjoy much of the countryside views. It is amazing how much of the terrain, mostly mountains is forested, and otherwise uninhabited.
As we approached Nagasaki, we passed several beautiful vistas, overlooking Omura Bay and finally into the city itself. Nagasaki has always been a bit of an international city, due to the port and arrival of vessels from all countries.
Once we settled in our rooms, we began a fairly full afternoon of activities. Our first stop was city hall to meet Mayor Suzuki and some of his staff. This is a brand new 19 stories- tall building in the center of Nagasaki. Mayor Suzuki speaks excellent English and graciously received us.
Sadly, he informed us that with the approach of the Typhoon, all invitations to outside dignitaries were withdrawn, and the memorial event would be a simple affair with only city dignitaries. We then proceeded to discuss his and our own commitments to work for peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Nagasaki is a member of a rather large international association of Mayors for Peace. I am pretty sure the same is true for the City of Seattle. Being one of only two cities to ever suffer the devastation of a nuclear attack, their story is unique and compelling as to why nuclear weapons should never be used again and totally abolished.
After the visit to City Hall, we made our way to join a strong contingent of faith leaders where Archbishop Wester gave one of several addresses.
Following the presentation portion of the Interfaith Assembly, we moved to a dining venue for the rest of the evening, where we listened to a few more brief presentations and the small table discussions took place over dinner.
The assembly included faith leaders from the Shinto, Buddhist, Christian and Muslim faiths, as well as a few leaders from NGO’s whose primary goal is to advance efforts for global peace and disarmament.
The whole evening of struggling with the language barrier, and cultural protocols gave a whole new meaning to the instruction of Jesus to his disciples when he sent them out on mission. “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person … Remain in the same house, eating and drinking what is set before you.”
Is not the mission of a disciple of Jesus to establish the peace we receive from the Lord? Was he not basically telling his disciples to be nice as you go along and respect the local people and their traditions and way of living? Establish peaceable relationships, and the Kingdom of God will naturally follow.
Such is our Pilgrimage of Peace!
More to come!11