Fr. Oshida's word



Fr. Oshida Shigeto passed away the 6th. of November of 2003     








Written in  March 1965    


            The spring equinox has already passed. In the morning one wakes up surrounded by a thick snow but in the evening it has disappeared almost completely. Now one can walk at night in the moonlight more often without being shrunk by the cold. The North Alps, the South Alp and the Mount Fuji are still covered with snow and it is not possible to see anything green but one can see that in some places of the mountain appears the red color of the new outbreaks of the larches.

              Few days ago while working the field, I could hear unexpectedly the singing of the lark but looking at the glen I could not see it and remained with the doubt. Today returning from the city, I could see it while it was singing. Many birds begin to come and jump while they chirp on the thatched roof of the chapel. Then somebody from the village showed me a wild artichoke he had just taken.

           Last May, when I was lodged in the small Buddhist temple, people doubted me. Soon they began to call me the priest of the chapel, but they were surprised a Christian monk did not construct a church nor began a kindergarten. Gradually their doubts begun to clear, and they began to consider me like somebody of good will. Not looking for my own interest or embracing a hidden objective. And so I was absolved from the rentís payment.

              They began to ask me for lectures. Initially, was the association of wives that wanted to call me, but the group didnít have enough funds and they asked the welfare association. I did not know the background and I spoke to them about  " Relationship of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law ". At the end I asked nothing about stipend, and they were at peace.

                In this way nobody worried thinking that our land was going to be used to construct chalets. Probably nobody knew that every morning in the thatched roof new chapel Mass was celebrated, but they all had the feeling that this land was used to give them hopes of a better life.

              This land is property of nobody. It is Godís property. It is a land that belongs to all men. To the tubercular patients, to the handicapped, to those who make their life a total offering. It is a land that is supported by the offerings of the poor and is to be run by the poor. Every thing has been a step of a surprising way.

              Some grains of wheat fell to the earth Ö

              This is a place where the weak and the poor produce by their hands the food they need, in a style of religious life. It is a place where the weak are healed of their great disease, which is dependency. It is a place where the poor are rewarded as spiritually poor. It is an oasis where the wayfarer's walking-stick holds us to walk the life. A place where anyone can contemplate without concerns his ideology or his religion.

              Last summer a group of women employed at Chichibu's looms, from the opposite side of the mountain, paid us a visit. I thought they were having leisure and just killing the time, and so I didnít speak to them. Later I learned that they had come in peregrination and I regretted deeply my attitude towards these poor people who were not Christian.

              I pray with all my heart not to forget to take the walking-stick without preconceived ideas.

              Now, I know that my lung disease will not heal and I want to confess that during all my life, I will take with me the debt that I have with the patients of tuberculosis.

              17 years ago I became very sick. It was a time by which medicines could be hardly obtained. I did survive due to the fact that, for my special position, I obtained medicines, which normal patients couldnít have access to. I will never be able to forget the young man who was beside me at the hospital. He was dying then because he could not receive streptomycin. When in Japan the lungís removal operation began, the doctors' council decided to operate, but I rejected it because I knew that I could not continue my priesthood. The young fisherman beside me was operated and died during the operation. I will never be able to forget his sharing of himself few days before he died.

              Two summers ago, thinking that it would be the last medical interventions, I had an operation of the bronchi. I came to the plateau of Fujimi and met patients who had been long time fighting against their disease, and as they began to speak to me of ďcommunitarian life". I did not know what to answer.

              It was not the first time that I saw attempts like this one and after few years of efforts and sufferings, it ended up in a failure. I knew that trying to bring together several persons with dependences, would lead us to failure. It is not possible to blame people who are living in insecurity, not knowing when the disease will redevelop.

              I know that the patients of tuberculosis and the handicapped persons are thirsty of affection and because of it they chase a utopia. The utopia of a world full of fraternal love and companionship. But this dream carries a danger in itself. The danger of ignoring that man is imperfect. Otherwise social institutions would necessarily make us happy necessarily. Although they are really necessary, they are only a temporary answer. To hope only that others give us and to seek to be always wrapped by companions is not more than a way to deform people.

            My answer to their wish was very hard. The first thing is, to start by giving everything of oneself and then to live like a religious working with the own hands, to harvest the own food. The normal thing is to live a family life. This is the normal order. Those who live in family have to put their root down into society. This is more real than trying to make communities. The problem of the hospitalized patients and of the handicapped persons is, in principle, a common human problem.

              I receive the offerings of the patients and handicapped persons in the name of the healthy ones, and the offerings of the healthy ones in the name of those who are suffering. In no way can be accepted offerings that carry ties. These fields belong to God and to all people. Those who suffer, the ill, what came out from the hands of the poor and of those that have passed a hard test cannot dirt.

              The previous mayor was impressed at he meaning of what we were doing. During the time I was in the city, he did not try to sell the land to the rich ones who wanted to offer a good price. He was the one who convinced the smallholders in order that they give it to us.

            The president of the Shinto temples of Shuwa's area was glad from the bottom of his heart, when he saw that with the cross we were raising, this land, at the border of his jurisdiction, was sanctified.

              Now I contemplate the natural place in which we live. This is my poor prayer. Here I cannot do anything. I am convinced that this fire will pass from heart to heart.




The mystery of the word and reality




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