This is a translation of an article written by Mankichi Nakamura, former head minister of Fukube Branch Church, for Tenri Jiho newspaper's column entitled "The Ofudesaki, My Companion along the Way."
If only the Service is done without error, the Gift of Heaven, also, will be given without fail.
In the past two years, I have encountered two serious illnesses, which presented me with real challenges, or "knots" as Tenrikyo calls such situations.
In August 2005, for reasons unknown to me I became severely dehydrated to the point where my heartbeat and breathing almost stopped. An ambulance rushed me to a hospital, where doctors found blood clots in my spleen and, consequently, removed half of it.
A year later, on the night of August 8 last year, I felt sudden and sharp pain in my head and neck. I noticed that I was losing consciousness and was sprawling to the floor, although somehow I managed to land on my hands and knees so that I did not sustain any serious injury.
After my wife administered the Sazuke, the Divine Grant, to me, an ambulance took me to the hospital. A CT scan showed that I had suffered a stroke caused by a blocked artery. I was hospitalized immediately.
I regained consciousness in the middle of the night, only to find that the left half of my body was paralyzed. After a brief moment of initial shock, however, I noticed that I felt none of the expected emotions--no anger, bitterness, sadness, or desire. My mind was empty and at peace.
Then suddenly, the first section of the Songs for the Service came to mind. I fell asleep while reciting it in my mind.
The next morning, when I woke up, the half of my body that had been paralyzed was functioning again. Bathed in the wondrous blessing, I felt a surge of joy at the thought that God might continue to use me.
A slight numbness remains in the finger tips of my left hand even now, but I see it as God's way of urging me to make further spiritual growth. By way of rededicating myself to that end, I played the small drum at the September monthly service at my grand church.
I have always tried, in my small way, to deepen my understanding of the service. These days, my focus is on putting my heart and soul into performing the service.
I sincerely hope that I will be able to joyously accept any "knot" that may be provided for me and address it positively.