Sunday 11 March 2012

One Year, One Day, One Moment

The fire glows dull gold through the opening at the bottom of the wood stove in the predawn darkness. The sound of the flame within roars a muted bass note to the soprano singing of the metal expanding with the heat. The kettle joins the ensemble and, if I listen very closely, I can hear the steady rise and fall of my family breathing in their futons on the tatami floor in the washitsu beyond. The fragrances of wood smoke and heating metal join those of tatami and coffee. I pick up my yunomi, it's surface hot against my fingers, the subtle texture of the chattered hip counterpointing the smoothness of the shoulder. Taking a mouthful of coffee, it's complex flavours flowing hotly round my tongue, I can feel it's passage as I swallow, it's warmth soaking into my chest.

None of this is extraordinary, at least not in the common understanding, but every moment of every day, every experience that touches my senses, every feeling that moves my soul is precious. I have always known this, that is why I chose to become a potter, why I live the life I do. I have not made pots for several months now, instead I have been a carpenter or a plumber or a myriad of other roles that a man must be in order to ensure the welfare and safety of his family. I have been a father, and a husband, and a friend, as best I could, for these are occupations which take precedence over all others.

Soon, I will be a potter again. My studio awaits me beyond the shoji screens, free now of the timber for the kiln shed. We have finally finished cutting the joints in the preloved posts and beams, and though they are not the work of a professional, they will do. Yesterday's snow will melt in a few days and I can begin the task of building the kiln shed, and then the kiln. But that is not today.

Today is for my family. A year ago today our lives were changed by the great earthquake. We were spared, and I am grateful for that blessing. So many have suffered so much loss, and my heart still goes out to them. It has been a long and twisted road this far, but we have not walked it alone and I am grateful for that blessing too. Thank you.

The road goes on, one step at a time, and we are moving forward. We have come a long way, and looking back it is a miracle that we have come this far in just one year. We have a long way to go, and though the way forward is unclear sometimes, we know it will open for us if we remain faithful and resolute. It is important not to forget the here and now, though, by dwelling on the past or longing for the future. Today is good and blessed, full of love and beauty.

The sun has risen from beyond the mountains, beams of golden light spear across the room to the dark wooden panels of the room beside me where my loved ones sleep. As these rays of light pass, the steam from the kettle on the wood stove dances with them and motes of dust sparkle in the eddies roiling above the hot stove. I will cook breakfast soon, and spend today quietly with my family, in gratitude. We will mourn for those who have been lost, pray for the relief of those still suffering and be thankful for our blessings. Thank you all for sharing this journey. The simple beauty and joy of an ordinary day is the most precious gift of all.



  1. beautiful words Euan. Once more you have expressed what is in our hearts. Hope you and your family have a wonderful day together and all good things in the year ahead.

  2. The great earthquake is very much in the news on public radio here on the other side of the world. Every time it is mentioned I think of you and your family propelled into a whole new world. Savor life.

  3. A beautiful morning for you who have come through stronger.
    Blessings Be to you all.

  4. I have never forgotton the devastation of Minami Sanriku, the town I visited last September. At the same time, I have never forgotton your strength and love to the family. Your words say it all. Sending my love to you and your family. x m

  5. You are a poet potter. I so enjoy reading your blog. All the best to you and your family as you rebuild.

  6. I can bearly type as my tears well up; as a Mum I can imagine the worry & the fiercely protective emotions that you and your wife must have endured during this last year, to care for and provide a safe haven for your family. May the coming days and months ahead bless you and your family with peace & wellbeing.

  7. I am amazed and in awe of the human spirit. I think, always, that I could not be strong enough to endure the horror of the event that you and your family have endured. You have been luckier that many there, but still...

    We have had our catastrophes this year, made bu fate or nature or man's inability to see the danger of pollution. Hurricanes, Tornadoes, floods, drought and I have been lucky not to have been among those for whom nothing material survived or those who lost loved ones.

    With every book of torah read each year, we say "Hazak, hazak, v'nit hazek" - "Be strong, be strong, and we all will be strenghtened." Thank you for being strong.

  8. Thank you, Euan. Your words are always inspiring. Best wishes from my family to yours, across the world. yo

  9. Euan, It is such a joy to read your words. You are an artist and teacher in many ways. Blessings to you Mika and your lovely children.