Finding Joy on My Deathbed

This is a translation of an article written by Yasuo Morita, head minister of Shibayama Branch Church, for the Tenri Jiho newspaper’s column entitled “The Ofudesaki, My Companion along the Way.”

If you truly replace the mind in its entirety, Tsukihi will accept it, too, at once.

Ofudesaki XVII:15

On my eighth day at elementary school, I fell ill with a high fever. My doctor diagnosed me with terminal tuberculosis, for which he said nothing could be done. He gave up on me.

For some 10 years thereafter, I languished in bed. Every day, I spat up enough phlegm to more than fill up a washbowl, in addition to coughing up blood again and again. I came close to death on a number of occasions, yet each time my life was spared for some reason.

When my former classmates were getting ready to enter high school, I was still confined to bed, not even knowing for sure if I would be alive the next day. From time to time, I could not help feeling that life was not worth living.

One day, I suffered a severe shaking chill and coughed up a large amount of blood. Immediately, the head minister of the church to which my own church belongs rushed to my house to administer the Sazuke to me.

As I lay gasping for breath, the head minister said calmly: “You need to find joy. Unless you find joy, you may not be saved.”

“There is not one thing I can find joy in. I’d be better off dead,” I said before I could stop myself. I was venting my pent-up dissatisfaction.

“Yet, isn’t it true that you have been enabled to be alive until now?” said the head minister in a calm and gentle way. “So long as you find joy in being kept alive, the day will surely come when you can participate in God’s work.”

Somehow those words stirred my soul and made a huge impact on me. “That’s right!” I thought. “Finding joy in being alive is something even someone in my condition can do.” The dark clouds that had hung over my mind suddenly cleared away.

That night, my father wrote the above-quoted verse on a sheet of paper with a calligraphy brush and pinned it above my bed to help keep my mind from wavering.

What happened on that day turned out to be a watershed in my battle with tuberculosis; gradually I began to recover. Eventually, I was fortunate enough to receive the blessing of restoration to health, which for me was nothing short of a miracle.

Fifty years after that, I am blessed with six children, not to mention their children. I am still being used for God’s work in a splendid way.

The flame of life burns within me as I continue to engage in salvation work in the hope of doing whatever I can toward making repayment for the boundless love of God, the Parent of humanity.

(Tenri Jiho, August 22, 2010, p. 3)

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