Reverend's Message - May 2017

Hollow Chocolate Figures
Rev. Dean Koyama

“When sentient beings think on Amida
Just as a child thinks of its mother,
They indeed see the Tathagata-who is never distant-
Both in the present and in the future.”
(From Shinran’s Jodo Wasan - Hymns of the Pure Land, #115)

The sun was harsh that afternoon in Sacramento in the early 1960’s. Temperatures would easily high jump over the century mark. The only comfort was watching the black-and-white TV in the living room where a small chattering wall-unit air conditioner struggled to release its precious cool air. But even the heat couldn’t keep four young energetic children inside.

It was well after noon when the sun would descend slightly over the rooftop of our house casting a cool shadow over the sand box that my father built in the backyard. Only when the sandbox was in the shade would Mom let us go outside to play in it in the summer. Armed with our yellow Tonka dump trucks, bulldozers, and backhoes we built cities complete with tunnels and roads. On that particular afternoon, we must have decided to add a lake using the garden hose. Everything became “Mud City”.

We had been so involved in our new syrupy creation that we didn’t hear the approaching footsteps. All of us were startled when we heard, “Look at all of you!” Mom did an abrupt turn about and went back into the comfort of the air-conditioned house. Those were the words that often chilled us to our bones because we had done something wrong. We looked at each other and realized that our “Mud City” also included “Mud People” for none of us could see anything that could be distinguished as skin. I remember feeling like a See’s hollow chocolate Easter bunny awaiting our punishment for First-degree mud-slaughter. And now the judge who had left the comfort of her 72-degree chamber returned once again into the 108-degree courtroom and was about to pronounce her sentence.

“I thought you all could use these,” she said handing each one of us an ice-cold orange-creme Popsicle. I remember all four of us taking a break from our civil engineering project to enjoy the cool refreshing treat on that hot summer afternoon. I think back and reflect that we really weren’t hollow chocolate figures at all. We were filled with marshmallowy warmth.

Happy Mother’s Day.
In Gassho, Namoamidabutsu,
Rev. Dean Koyama