Saturday, April 27, 2013


When I was first presented with the opportunity to live and work in Japan almost 4 and a half years ago, one of my chief concerns was that I would not be able to adjust to city life.

The countryside was my natural habitat, and to my eyes, Bellingham, Washington, with its population of 80,000 was the big city.  I couldn't even fathom living in Tokyo, whose total metropolitan population is roughly 446 times the size of Bellingham.

Yet four years have proven me wrong.  Sure, I am still a country-boy at heart, but I have also grown to appreciate city-life.  At the very least, it has not been painful, stressful or difficult as I once imagined it to be.  I often tell people that I do not miss the countryside while I'm in the city--it's only when I leave and see wide open spaces and the color green that I remember how much I love the countryside.  Basically, I am finding that I can be content wherever I'm at.

This being said, I must say that living in the city has multiplied my appreciation of spaces with trees, fields, lakes and streams.  As it turns out, Tokyo is full of such locations!

My girlfriend is an aficionado of Tokyo parks and gardens, and she has introduced me to such wonderful places as Shinjuku Gyouen, Rikugien, Kyu-Furukawa Teien, and Korakuen.

Visiting these sites, I have realized that Tokyo has done a splendid job of maintaining its parks.  In the midst of this vast city, there are many spacious, lush and peaceful parks, each an oasis...

An oasis from the sound of cars.

An oasis from large crowds.

An oasis from the color grey and a return to greens and other colors of life.

An oasis in which to enjoy a moment of tranquility; to collect one's thoughts; to reflect on the beauty of God's creation.

It's been many years since I first learned that word--oasis--and only now do I truly understand it.  While I love the city, it is so incredibly refreshing to be able to step into a world whose perimeter is guarded by trees; whose ponds and lakes are the home to so many koi and ducks; whose benches are shaded by branches that rustle gently in the wind and stifle the city-noises; whose flowers and blossoms generate not only extra fresh air, but a pleasant aroma.  In such a place, I find myself recharged and revitalized for the task I'm called to in the city.  In such a place, I can rest and think.

Yet a physical oasis is little more than an analogy.  The true oasis is a spiritual circumstance: resting in God.  When I visit these parks, I am reminded of where true revitalization comes from.  I am reminded of where my hope truly lies.  God is our oasis in a busy world.  May we seek out shelter in His shade and enjoy the peace and quiet of His protecting arms!

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes, we too are small town folk, although it seems that God has called us to larger and larger cities (hopefully this is where it stops). It has been good that He also gave us boys, so that we've also sought out the green and spacious places. Going camping has been an extension of that, and we always come back mentally refreshed.