A doubly enjoyable experience

 This is Maki Goto. Last month, I was able to carry out something I usually can’t do.

 On the final day of Golden Week, on the substitute holiday of May 6th (Monday), I spontaneously decided to go eat ramen with my son. Since my wife and daughters had already gone out to Kichijoji in the morning, it ended up being just the two of us guys. I had heard online that “Suzuki,” the original stamina ramen shop in Mitaka that I had been curious about for a while, offered a limited afternoon menu of maze soba on holidays, so we headed there. When we arrived at the shop, it was nearing noon. There was already a long line, but we passed the waiting time chatting with my son. We finally got to taste the maze soba after waiting for about two hours. Since we don’t usually have the opportunity to chat leisurely, waiting was not a burden at all.

 It might not be clear from the photo, but the portion was quite substantial. Also, the seasoning was rich, with a generous amount of finely chopped garlic piled on top. As for the taste, it was simply “delicious.” Despite its richness, it wasn’t overwhelming, and the noodles were flat and thick, somewhere between udon and kishimen (flat noodles), providing a satisfying chewiness. After finishing the meal, my honest feeling was that the two-hour wait was definitely worth it.

 During the leisurely wait in line, amidst the flow of time, there was intimate conversation with my son, something we don’t usually get to do. Plus, enjoying the superb maze soba side by side with my son made it a doubly delicious experience.

Salvation Mountain and Noah’s Ark

Hello! This is Yuko Ozeki, the leader in North America.

On the way back from a trip to Arizona recently, I visited Salvation Mountain. This place became a topic of conversation more than ten years ago. At that time, I was in the midst of raising children and couldn’t find the time to go, so I had to give up on the idea. However, this time, almost by chance, I was able to go and I’m very grateful for it.

The person who created this mountain is Leonard Knight. He spent 30 years creating it simply because he wanted to convey the gospel message that “God loves you!” Besides the mountain, there are many other things around, like cars and boats, all with messages like “God Loves You” or pictures representing the nine fruits of the spirit, or “Bible,” “Bible” written endlessly on car bumpers. It’s hard to describe, but I felt the intensity of his conviction. For about 30 years, he worked diligently, alone, contemplating, praying, and talking to God while creating this mountain and its artworks. And while spending time with people who came to see this mountain, he continued to convey the love of God.

Thinking about this, I remembered Noah, who spent about 100 years (maybe a bit shorter) building the ark. Just like Leonard Knight, Noah worked quietly, building the ark to save humanity. Those 100 years were not just a time of physical labor; they were surely an incredibly long and deep time of communion with God, a time of prayer.

At JCFN, we occasionally hold retreats with contemplative prayer and times of silence called C-WIT. During the silent times, we engage in activities like coloring or drawing on stones while communing with God. What Leonard and Noah did was on a much larger scale than a retreat of a few hours or days; it was a long, long time of silence and contemplative prayer. This realization filled me with a solemn feeling that is hard to describe.

Blessings.

(Note: Since the creator of Salvation Mountain, Leonard, has passed away for a long time, maintenance is needed in many places, and many areas are closed. If you haven’t been and are interested, I recommend going soon.)

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