The City No Longer Forsaken

"They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted." ~Isaiah 62:12

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It all comes back to Big Bird in Japan

Go ahead, call me a nerd. :-)

In 1989, Sesame Street came up with this super quality t.v. special called "Big Bird in Japan". I was quite enamored with it. I'm pretty sure I watched it every morning when I was five years old. The day my dad accidentally recorded an orchestra concert over Big Bird in Japan was a particularly tense one in my family. I didn't watch it again for years until one of my college roommates bought me the dvd for Christmas one year. Shockingly, the quality of the story and singing had decreased dramatically over the years. I'm not quite sure how that happened. ;-)

Of course, now when I think about Big Bird in Japan, my brain comes up with obnoxious thoughts like, "Random Japanese people coming up to Big Bird on the street and saying "ohayo"?! Not only would they not greet a stranger, they would never use casual form when they first met him!!!"

Anyway...a few nights ago I was out on a walk, determined to have good quality communication with God about this whole transition thing that is coming up. This as opposed to pretending we don't need to talk about all that. I was sitting out by my ponds. Ueno's skyscrapers and a near full moon were reflecting off the water, and I found myself thinking about Big Bird in Japan. The movie adopts an old Japanese folktale about Kaguya Hime, a princess sent to earth from the moon for a short period of time. At the end of the story, Kaguya Hime has to return to the moon.

There is a song in the movie where she is singing to the moon, and I don't know that I'd ever thought of the lyrics before. But I dug up the song on YouTube and listened and found that the whole song was this sad transition song. A goodbye song. A journey into uncertainty. In the song, she says to the moon, "I don't know what's coming. What do you see? Moon, moon, what's in store for you and for me?" and later, "Moon, moon I don't know the future. What can you say?" I can't figure out all the words in the chorus, but here's what I can get, "Sometimes the darkness holds something bright. Sometimes the sadness turns into morning, sweet [something that rhymes with bright]. I feel so alone, but I have to go home tonight."

I watched the Big Bird in Japan clips with this kind of eerie recognition. There is a play of the folktale inside the movie, and at the end the princess is waving goodbye to Japan. And the narration says, "...and almost as she spoke, the procession from the moon appeared to escort the tearful princess back to the palace of the moon. But her old mother and father always believed that one day another golden light would appear in a bamboo stump in the forest to signal that Kaguya Hime had come back to them on earth. And who knows? One day, perhaps Kaguya Hime will return."

Me in my transition ridden state watched that with a reaction somewhere along the lines of, "WHAT?! **PERHAPS** she will return?! What kind of children's show is this being all bittersweet and sad like that?! The happy ending should be, "And Kaguya Hime told the messengers of the moon that she had come to belong in Japan, and they said, "Very well. We'll send you back to Japan very soon." ;-)

I read on good ol' Wikipedia that in the original story of Kaguya Hime, when the messengers come from the moon come to take her back, they slip a robe of some kind onto her shoulders, and as soon as she is wearing it she forgets Japan.

And this is the real uncertainty in going home this coming March. What will Japan look like from American soil? What will the vision look like with new visions, conveniently packaged in my own language, begin coming around me? What is "eternal" and what is fleeting? The only way to find out is to return, and risk that the robe dropping back onto my shoulders will erase the memory of Japan forever.

"Sometimes the darkness holds something bright." Something I treasure about transitions is that it is a good reminder of where our true stability comes from. So many things get built up as stability...friends, places, jobs, stuff...moving across an ocean with no plans for the future puts all of those in perspective. They are all flighty. Nothing can be trusted to stay the same except for Christ. But praise our unchanging God, the true rock! I'm really glad he appreciates it when I'm clingy.

1 comment:

Halim Naeem said...

The lyric says "Sometime the sadness turns into morning sweet SIGHT." Thanks so much for clearing up thw part where she says " i feel so alone..." it wasnt clear if she was saying "i feel so at home"... love the songs 10 times more as an adult vs. As a kid