I imagine all of us have been deeply affected by the natural disasters in Japan this past weekend.  One of the largest earthquakes ever recorded followed immediately by a devastating Tsunami.  It’s hard to believe the photographs are real.  My mind prefers to imagine they are trailers for the next blockbuster disaster movie.  Add to the mix the uncertainty of more than one partial or full nuclear reactor meltdowns. I find myself having difficulty grasping the enormity of the devastation. What would I do in that situation?  A friend commented how calm and orderly the people seem to be.  Would I be calm and orderly faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges? I am no scholar of Japanese culture or history. What I do know is the culture’s emphasis is on community. After WWII they rebuilt their country to become a vibrant economy.  In the 1990’s Japan suffered major economic stress and pulled out of it.  Living with frequent earthquakes the Japanese have trained their people on what to do in the event of a significant quake.  They turned to nuclear energy years ago for its benefits and are world renown for technological advancements in the nuclear power field.  They, and we too, are being challenged by Mother Nature’s fury.

Locally in the northeast we are being challenged as well.  Flooding across NJ, and for that matter in many states, is causing devastation for many families.  Homes are being washed away, others under water.  How do you pick up and rebuild your life after experiencing such catastrophe?  What would you do?

Diane Sawyer said tonight “the Japanese are giving us a master class”. Featuring orderliness, generosity, no looting.

The sun always rises.  Assistance in many forms coming from all across the world will help the Japanese get back on their feet and rebuild.  Locally here on the east coast, FEMA, state and local agencies will help those dealing with extensive property damage in NJ.  Throughout the world people are rebuilding their lives from the devastation of the global recession.

On the human level persistence is key. The human spirit is a magnificent instrument of engagement.  Unfortunately, too often it’s only when disaster strikes people engage their humanity and therefore one another.  The rest of the time we are trying to keep up with all the tasks before us, and the information coming at us. All of us have experienced trying times in one form or another.  Persistence is key to getting through.  Taking one step at a time in the direction you think will get you where you want to go.  A few weeks ago I tweeted a quote from Martin Luther King, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase”. I’m sure many of Japan’s citizens don’t see the whole staircase now, or maybe they do because of their cultural beliefs.

Having just embarked on the Lenten journey, I plan to use these 40 days to engage with my soul purpose and ensure my humanity is ever engaged with my actions.  I trust the Japanese and our own neighbors will continue to demonstrate that engaging our humanity is essential to life.

Caesar: “What say’st thou to me?  Speak once again.

Soothsayer: Beware the Ides of March.

Caesar: He is a dreamer, le us leave him.  Pass”