I had very good intentions of going to the café yesterday and taking a leisurely hour or two for writing. However, “lasagne for 35+ people” happened. Or rather, shopping, making herb salt and roasted garlic, and preparing the meat sauce happened. Today is the big day; I make the cheese (yogurt) filling and the noodles and put the whole thing together. I hope we have enough pans… and since I don’t actually use a recipe for lasagne, I really have no way of judging if I’ve purchased enough ingredients or not. It certainly looks like a lot!
Anyway, in my home country, it is still Friday. That counts, right?
We’ve been on vacation, for almost 3 weeks, if you include the church retreat. I have to say; coming home from vacation (and preparing to go away, for that matter) really hurts. Emails don’t stop coming just because I stop checking. Japanese flashcards don’t stop piling up. The farm doesn’t stop producing vast amounts of zucchini. And we really should write another prayer letter soon.
The last bit of our vacation was 2 nights at Niseko, a ski resort about 2 hours away from here. We went there (during the winter) with my family 3 ½ years ago, and this time we stayed at the same hotel… I knew the onsen and food were amazing, so why look further? A friend of ours is a pastor there, so we visited his family too.
For me, having time away at an onsen is a special spiritual retreat. I don’t have to cook or clean up, there are none of the distractions of home and work, and onsen resort towns tend to be in beautiful places—I can relax and listen for God’s voice surrounded by his creation.
On the morning of our second day, we went on a hike. (It was great—not too long or difficult, but interesting, lots of wildflowers, and great views. The mountain is called Iwaonupuri, if you’re interested.) On the way down it started to rain, but that made the onsen feel even better when we got back to the hotel.
|At the peak of Iwaonupuri|
|Iwaonupuri is a volcano; this is the crater. Smelled a bit like eggs.|
|View out over the Sea of Japan|
|Some kind of wild rhododendron|
As I was sitting alone in the outdoor pool, I asked for God to speak to me. God brought to mind something that our tea ceremony teacher once said: 「音もごちそうです。」 “Sounds are also part of the feast.” Our teacher was referring to the fact that tea ceremony engages all the senses—not only do we enjoy drinking tea and eating sweets, but there are beautiful things to look at, and the various sounds of preparing the tea are beautiful and refreshing.
So I listened. The wind, the rain, the birds, the sound of water flowing into the onsen became a part of the “feast” as I enjoyed God’s creation.
Later in the afternoon, we went to the deck on the roof of the hotel. We’ve just finished a sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount—I think probably our third or fourth sermon series or Bible study on that topic in the last 3 years or so. I decided to read the whole Sermon (Matthew 5-7) again, while watching the swallows dart around above us. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
This particular passage has always been close to my heart. I think that’s because I always need another reminder to trust in God’s provision—he will give me what I need, even if I think my “needs” are different. He wants me to ask and to trust. I need not be afraid that my prayers will not be heard or my needs left unmet.
|The feast in the hotel dining room|