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Lions Roar : May 2010
strangers. He is a healer of cats and hearts, a small wonder in this world of so many wonders. If I ever felt any doubts, I do not now. All That Divided Us Will Merge tHougH tHErE arE many customs for birth in Japan— the mother returning to her parents’ house, a celebration of the child’s first solid foods—we’ve missed them all. In california we hold a Jewish baby-naming ceremony for yuto. many people from my mother’s community gather to welcome him, though we are strangers. yuto is given the name Ben- jamin after his maternal grandfather, who came from lodz, Poland, and Walter Benjamin, the Jewish writer–philosopher and member of the resistance in World War II. there is a cer- emony where we throw all our sins into the napa river. any time between rosh Hashanah and yom Kippur, in the Jewish tradition, it is customary to throw breadcrumbs into a body of water as a symbolic act of repentance. the ritual is called Tashlich, a sending out. We gather at a waterfront to “cast away” the sins of the past and resolve to have a better year in the one to come. my mother and stepfather, father and stepmother, my sis- ters and their sons are there. the whole family has gathered to heal and rejoice. It seems to be a holy time all over the world. In India it is the Hindu ganesh festival, celebrating beginnings and removing obstacles. In the muslim world, it is ramadan. my mother’s friends, most of whom I don’t know, come up to congratulate us. some tell me their stories, of how they too were adopted, or how they adopted children, and what a wonderful mitzvah it is. tossing bread into the water, everything is still. It is a beau- tiful moment. the congregation has prepared a blessing for the occasion. It says: May the one who blessed your ancestors bless you. We hope that you will be a blessing to everyone you know. Human- ity is blessed to have you. yuto sIts atoP HIs fatHEr’s sHouldErs wearing his beaded yarmulke, smiling and dancing. yuto is Jewish and Japanese; he is universal. I look at shogo and see he too is crying. Humanity is blessed to have you. the adults gather and say the shabbat prayer: And then all that has divided us will merge Then compassion will be wedded to power And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind And then both women and men will be gentle And then both men and women will be strong And then no person will be subject to another’s will And then all will be rich and free and varied And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many Then all will share equally in the Earth’s abundance And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old And then all will nourish the young And then all will cherish life’s creatures And then all will live in harmony with each other and the environment And then everywhere will be called Eden once again. my mother ordered a cake for yuto decorated with Poke- mon, though yuto seems to be the only one there who does not know who Pokemon is. He devours the cake, which says: “mazel tov, yuto. Welcome to the tribe.” my aunt PassEs aWay. I am stricken with grief. she is my beloved, my friend, my mentor, my guide. But I cannot cry forever. yuto has been given a pogo stick and wants to bounce on the sidewalk. It is dangerous, but he can’t be stopped. He seems impervious to pain, though I know he is not. It’s just that he learned not to cry at the orphanage, where help might not have come as quickly and plentifully as it would in differ- ent circumstances. suddenly, he points to the pavement. “cho cho! cho cho!” a butterfly lay on the ground. a beautiful orange and black monarch. “Nette imasu”—it’s sleeping. I use the Japanese euphemism for death. He leans over its lifeless body. “Shinda?” he asks. Is it dead? I wonder how, and where, he has learned that word. “yes,” I say, scooping up the butterfly in my hands and bringing it over to the garbage. But this will not do. “Hana! Hana,” he stomps his feet and motions to a pot- ted daisy bush in front of the house. understanding, I carry the butterfly over and put it to rest on the bed of flowers. He covers it with a leaf. then he points up. Sora, he says. sky. satisfied, he takes my hand and leads me back to the pogo stick, where he bounces and bounces until dinnertime. ♦ 71 SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2010