This is a story about community and love.
In Japan, Diachi was a rice farmer whose fields extended across an expanse of hill tops. The neighbors often pitied Diachi and his family because of all of the additional difficulties they had to deal with as they struggled to farm the slopes of the hills. Each day however Diachi would work in their rice fields, and as they worked they would look out and see the ocean beyond the lands and they would pause and bask in the awe of its beauty and power.
One day as Diachi was working his rice fields he looked out and noticed the ocean seemed to be drawing back, getting ready to leap like a wild animal. He knew the leap would be a tsunami. Diachi also knew that his neighbors who were working in the low lying fields must very quickly get to the high grounds of his hill or they would be swept out to the ocean in the overwhelming surge of waves where they would surely drown. Without hesitating, Diachi and his wife set fire to their rice racks while the children desperately rang the temple bells. (In their community, everyone would respond to a fire bell because it is all too well known that no one can fight a fire alone – and a fire means starvation for a family.) Hearing the bell and seeing the smoke, Diachi’s neighbors rushed to help him and his family. As the villagers crested the hill and put out the fire, they turned back to see their own rice fields covered in walls of ocean waves. From the safety of the hills, they saw the torrents of the waters over the fields they had just left. The villagers recognized quickly saw that Diachi’s years of toil in difficult circumstances, his awe and reverence for the ocean, his sacrifice of his crops had all come together to save their lives.
The habits that we build in the small actions and tasks of our day to day lives all build together to set the foundation for the options and choices that will be available to each of us in larger moments of crisis. The theme of altruistic love that reaches out to help those in need is a common across cultures, traditions and religions.