Tenrikyo Europe Centre
by Junko Umetani (Member of Tenrikyo Women’s Association)
First of all, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart that the Monthly Service of June can take place in the joy at the TEC.
To you, who have come to attend this meeting, I feel a deep gratitude for all the trouble you give yourself in the service of the Way, each in his respective position.
My name is Junko UMETANI and I had the pleasure to talk to you here. I was sent by Mother Women's Association as a speaker at the Women's Progress Gathering yesterday. I ask your kind attention.I was born in Oyasato where I spent my childhood. Then destiny brought me into the UMETANI family by marriage. From my birth so far, I have lived an existence that was naturally centered around faith and I grew up without feeling any doubt about my own faith. But if I were asked if I am a good believer, I would say that this is not the case at all.
As far as the Teachings are concerned, there is a lot of things that I do not know and I feel like I have lived in carelessness.
Oyagami and Oyasama presumably think Junko has not yet reached spiritual maturity. And this person who is myself, got married and was given children; and when you are a mother of four, you often think about things you were was totally ignorant of and did not care about in the past.
As I took age, like my parents, I made experiences that made me discover the gratitude and greatness of this Teaching. And that's what I'd like to talk to you about today.
Do you wear the amulet?
Me too, I always wear it on myself. For my children too, after their birth I have not forgotten to receive the amulet during their first return to Jiba. According to the Teaching, it is to prove the return to Jiba that they are granted.
But, I wondered at the beginning if it was really necessary to make them wear the amulet: they risk losing it. Since they were too small to understand their value, it was only a matter of form. What I thought was selfish!
But one day, my mother-in-law told me something that made me change my mind. It was a story that happened when my sister-in-law died, which I talked about yesterday.
This accident happened very long before my marriage.
My sister-in-law was one year and ten months old. She drowned in the bath of the house of the church chief at the Tsumesho. It only lasted a moment: no one watched her and she fell head first into the full tub. It was the anniversary of the birth of the founder during which the kagura service is celebrated every day around the Kanrodai from 18 to 26 April. The parents and all the people of Tsumesho were extremely busy. They suddenly noticed the child's absence and began looking for her everywhere. They finally found the child at the bottom of the tub and rushed with him to the newly completed Ikoi-no-Ie hospital; but the child was already gone. Imagine the pain and desperation of parents!
In the Oyasama Life Anecdotes, there is a story entitled "A way of understanding": Oyasama addressed the following word to Shirobei UMETANI, their ancestor who has entered the religion of Tenri and who also came to lose his daughter: "You were lucky that it was not one of the elders! In my opinion, that is the word that would have supported my in-laws too.
In fact, the dead child was the fifth daughter of my parents-in-law, that is, they still had four older daughters. But on the other hand, losing a child causes parents a more cruel pain than cutting a limb; it does not matter whether they are big or small, older or younger. All parents are able to imagine it, even if they are not concerned themselves. I then asked my mother-in-law how she felt about the disappearance of her child, even if it had been for a long time. She replied immediately that of course she was very sad.
And she told me the following: By removing the child's body from the bathtub, they saw the amulet stuck to the wet body. On seeing it, she felt relieved: this child had not disappeared alone, Oyasama was hugging her! She was firmly convinced of it.
She continued: "If at that moment I had not let my child wear this talisman for my own convenience, I think I have regretted all my life having let her go!”
True, it does not change anything. She has lost her child and it is very difficult to endure, but she regrets nothing and can even feel joy. And this is the moment when I felt grace and gratitude for the Talisman received by Oyasama. As for me, I put it on the body of my children without any particular intention but now, I never forget to let them wear it so as not to have to regret it! To my children, I always say that by wearing it, they have the happiness of being with Oyasama all the time. Through this talisman, I try to transmit to them the joy of faith in everyday life.
The virtue of our faith deepens over generations. I really feel it.
My late sister-in-law and my eldest daughter are both from the same Eastern zodiac sign, the dragon. I have the impression that this child that his own parents did not have the chance to see grow, this child was entrusted by Oyagami for us to educate him in turn. I think the more my daughter grows up, the happier and grateful I am to feel the divine protection; I am really extremely grateful.
We, who are the precursors of this path for the peoples of the world, we have the great mission to spread this wonderful teaching not only to children but also to many people. To do this we must feel the divine protection as such and fill with joy our daily life.
Oyasama by preaching by the mouth and over the brush has served as a model for thousands of people and has patiently guided people who have trouble understanding it. For those who did not understand, she gently and carefully explained her doctrine and set an example by her own conduct. In the midst of the difficulties on her way, Oyasama is an example for us: we see her encourage her children, make them happy with her words and happily go before us with them together. The Oyasama Model gives us another important lesson: our passion for faith is passed on without fail, not only to others but also to our children. I encourage you to strive to spread the joy of keeping that faith. I do not know how many virtues I have received thanks to the faith of my parents and my ancestors. But in the same way, let us transmit these virtues to our children, our grandchildren, and also to our children in faith who are not connected with us by blood.
Finally, I beg you with all my heart to devote you sincerely to the Way of Salvation. I thank you for your kind attention.