A few days ago, I watched an incredible documentary. It was Lucy Walker's, "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom" about the 9.0 tsunami that hit Japan on 3/11/11. Walker was preparing to make a film about Japan's ephemeral cherry blossom season, but ended up making something completely different after the devasting natural disaster killed thousands of people.
One month after the waves hit, the appearance of the beloved blossoms, beautiful and enduring amidst a land ragged with ruin and destruction, gave the Japanese hope to survive. Here are some of the film's touching quotes:
"It's beautiful, because the life of the flowers is short. Even when the flowers fall, we love it. That's the heart of a Japanese person."
"Flowers dying is not a sad thing."
"If you give up, it's all over."
"The plants are hanging in there, so we humans had better do it, too."
I remember one man saying you can see your feelings reflected in the cherry blossoms. If you are melancholy, they will appear melancholy; if you are happy, they will appear happy. The cherry blossoms are like the way we view life then, no? The documentary was only about 45 minutes long, but it was heart-wrenchingly filled with beauty, emotion, and inspirational Japanese culture.
As I watched the film, I remembered looking at hundreds of pictures on the internet when the tsunami had occurred, and at one frame in particular. It was of two women searching through heaps of debris where their houses had once stood. Finally, one found a yellow teacup that was still intact and held it up high above her head with a huge smile on her face. You would have thought she had found a chunk of gold. To her, this small memory of normal life, whole and unharmed, gave her this immense joy. How precious are small things to the heart--how important are the cherry blossoms to the stricken soul.