Written & Read by
Lisa DeYoung Jastram, Class of 1974
Sunday Service, October 10, 2004
Good morning. Ohayo gozaimasu. My name is Lisa De Young Jastram and I am a 1974 graduate of ASIJ. First of all, I want to thank all of you for being here this morning. Getting up an hour earlier after all the fun and excitement of the past two days was certainly not an easy thing.
When Brent asked me to organize a worship service for this reunion about a month ago, I was a little leery to say yes.
I am a Christian, a Lutheran at that. I was pretty sure you would not want a Lutheran service- we stand up and sit down an awful lot! If you listen to Garrison Keillor on "Prairie Home Companion", you will know that we Lutherans have a rather "distinctive" way of worship. I am the contemporary Music Director at my church. I plan services every week and yet this one is quite different. I was trying to imagine what kind of worship service would work at a gathering that is so diverse in nature, with people from so many backgrounds, cultures and faiths.
I asked for a copy of the bulletin from the service which was held in Wisconsin this summer at the "Doro Kami" reunion. Looking through it, I understood why it worked so well and why it could be such a blessing. What I discovered was a service of Forgiveness, Healing, Remembrance and Thanksgiving. These are global themes, common to all people and all faiths. This is why we are gathered here today.
I chose the reading from Ecclesiastes [3:1-8] because to me, it describes a reunion ...
For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time for war, and a time for peace.
A time to laugh: Thanks to Gary Fish, we had plenty of that!
A time to dance: Again, thanks to Gary Fish and his beautiful wife for that!
A time to embrace: A whole lot of hugging going on. We even have a chance to hug those we had crushes on in high school!
A time to speak: Boy, have we ever been doing a lot of that in the past few days.
We rejoice in this gathering, of renewing friendships. My first impulse was to continue that high energy and celebration this morning. But it seems to me that we also need to take time for a more contemplative reunion, a sharing of deeper feelings and emotions which are not so easily brought forth, some which we purposely avoid and some which we long to share but don't know how.
A time to heal: Early this year, it came to light that one of our teachers had been abusive towards many of our fellow students. This teacher confessed these grievous wrong-doings and then, in a very Japanese gesture of shame, committed suicide. Some among us are still dealing with this in a most personal way. Those of us who were not necessarily abused are grappling with other issues: how can we forgive this man? How can we let go? I have gathered some readings which will address this issue. After I printed the bulletin, my mother pointed out that two of the reading contradicted each other. But, maybe that's as it should be, since this is an issue of conflicting feelings. We will have a time of reflection during which you may want to ponder on the readings. But the wounds of abuse were not the only ones from our high school days. When Marcia and I were talking about this, we both agreed there were many other wounds unknowingly or carelessly afflicted in high school. At the last reunion I attended in Seattle, an old friend came up to Dave (my husband) and apologized for something he felt responsible for in high school. We could not believe that this friend had been harboring this guilt for over 25 years and it was something that truly was not even his fault. In any case, there was healing. Other alumni I have spoken to choose not to attend reunions because there is still unresolved pain. So, let us take a few moments during this service for forgiveness and healing.
Forgiveness does not require us to forgo justice or to make up to people we have every right to despise. Anger has its place. When I talk about forgiveness, I mean letting go, not excusing the other person or reconciling with them or condoning behavior. Just letting go of your own suffering (Dr Dean Ornish)
"Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23,24)
Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?'' Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Matthew 18: 21, 22)
Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn't you - all of the expectations, all of the beliefs - and becoming who you are. (Rachel Naomi Remen)
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. There is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40: 28-31)
A time to die; a time to weep. a time to mourn: Had we all lived , gone to school, and graduated in the same town in America, we probably would've gone to each other's weddings, children's baptisms and funerals. Being the unique, spread-out community that we are, we have not been able to participate in most of these events. So, today, I would like us to take time to remember those who are not here, those who have passed on. My brother, David, is one of those who will be named today. He died in 1992 of AIDS. When he died, my mother and I decided to make a quilt for him as part of the AIDS quilt project. We sent out plain squares of muslin for people to decorate in what ever way they saw fit. When the quilt was finished, it was most remarkable to see how much of it was from ASIJ. These were his closest friends even 14 years after he had graduated. If you have time, I have brought the quilt along to share. You will even notice a square signed by the teachers of ASIJ, most notably Mr. Berger. What this tells me is that we who shared the experience of ASIJ can continue to support and uplift each other even these many years later.
Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I and you are you - whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way we used to. Put no difference in your tone, wear no false air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed, play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever spoken without effort, without trace of shadow. What is death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well.
--- Canon Henry Scott Holland
'All is Well'
A time to break down; a time to build up: In high school, we were often separated by which groups we hung out with, what our parents did, how we looked. Well, this our opportunity to break down those barriers which divided us and build up new friendships and relationships. After all, we're all starting to look more and more alike anyway!
A time for giving thanks: Well, this wasn't in Ecclesiastes, but I think it should be. We have so much to be thankful for, not the least of which is the fact this reunion is actually taking place! We are so thankful for the Ware family in hosting this event, to the committee members for all their work and to every single person who took time out of their busy schedules to be here. And we thank God for blessing this event in a very special way, this time together . This is a service of readings, prayers, and, of course, music .I hope you will feel the very presence of God. "For when two or more or gathered in my name, there I am also."