A note from Japan
Tsubaki Grand Shrine provides a travel grant for one Meadville Lombard seminary student to travel to Japan for two weeks where they take up residence in the Shinto shrine. The grant promotes cultural learning and the opportunity to explore Shinto and Japanese culture.
Tisha Moore shares thoughts on her experience:
I will be here at Tsubaki Okami Yashiro (Tsubaki Grand Shrine) from June 5-19th. It is an amazing shrine complex located in the 7 Mountain area of Suzuka. I am learning about Shinto and Japanese culture through an uncommon and very moving total immersion experience. Since I am preparing for hospital chaplaincy, it is important for me to be intimately familiar with many religious and cultural viewpoints. I also value the opportunity to learn from both the written word and experience. Much like our ministerial formation, it is important to learn from reading, but also through congregational internships, CPE and other experiential opportunities.
One of the things I have been doing is working with the other priests to sweep and clean the grounds each day. There are beautiful wide gravel paths winding through the shrine and we try to keep these totally free of leaves. Yet the shrine is located in a forest, so as soon as we sweep... more leaves have fallen. So I am learning to keep working for the betterment of my environment, in spite of obstacles and setbacks. Even if I can only clean a small area, that is one small area where I can have an effect if my heart is committed.
I think this is a metaphor that translates well to the goals of social justice, peace and equality that Unitarian Universalism is forever working towards. We are called to keep committing our hearts and minds to the well-being of our local and global communities. Even when that seems difficult and full of obstacles, it still makes an important difference when done with love and devotion.