The Boys and Girls Association Headquarters held a pep rally on May 26 for the 50th Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba, which is scheduled to begin on July 26 and last 10 days under the theme: “Gratitude, Joy, Hinokishin.” The rally, held at the Home of the Parent, drew 1,400 association leaders from dioceses and directly supervised churches. With just two months to go before the start of the pilgrimage, the participants renewed their commitment to invite as many children as possible to join the pilgrimage.
The rally began with the opening remarks by Association Chairman Harunobu Nakayama, who first reminded the listeners of this year’s association activity guideline: “Let us convey the mind of single-hearted salvation from parent to child–promoting activities leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama.” Regarding how to nurture children in spiritual growth, he said that parents’ joyous spiritedness is crucial in helping their children grow spiritually. “Faith can only be transmitted to children when they are enveloped by their parents’ joyousness,” he said. After mentioning how Instruction Two stresses “cultivating the mind of saving others and . . . implementing salvation work,” he said that inviting children to Jiba was an important way of sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and could become the first step in salvation work. He added that it was vital for those involved in nurturing children to take initiative in implementing the message of Instruction Two, thereby setting an example for children. He closed his address by urging the participants to make further efforts to advance their local activities, so that the 50th pilgrimage might draw greater numbers of children than usual.
The participants then watched a video illustrating the history of the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba, which was followed by an address by Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi. He first referred to the overall history of the pilgrimage to indicate that the event initially started to provide children with an opportunity to do hinokishin in Jiba in conjunction with the plans for the Oyasato-yakata building-complex, which had been announced as part of the pre-anniversary activities for the 70th Anniversary of Oyasama. He then said: “Today, as the construction site of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex is getting modernized, it is true that earth-carrying hinokishin may look impractical to many of us. We must bear in mind, however, that the Oyasato Construction, which can only be accomplished with the sincere dedication of those who adore Oyasama, began with earth-carrying hinokishin.” He continued, “The Children’s Pilgrimage started with the intention of having children find joy in dedicating their sincerity to the Jiba.”
Rev. Iburi then examined the Children’s Pilgrimage from different viewpoints to clarify its implications for the path. He first described it as a means of implementing missionary work in that children of the path invite their school friends to the pilgrimage, while association leaders take those children to the Home of the Parent together with their parents who may not yet know the teachings. He also looked at it as a venue for children to learn and implement the teachings naturally, saying that children spend those few days in a manner based on the teachings, such as extending greetings to God the Parent when they wake up and offering thanks at mealtimes for the daily blessings they receive.
Furthermore, Rev. Iburi portrayed it as a venue for nurturing successors of the path, as he explained, “Small children are not the only ones to be nurtured; we can see a large number of junior high school and high school students also growing spiritually by engaging in various hinokishin tasks during the pilgrimage.” In regard to the prospects for the pilgrimage, he said, “The pilgrimage may also play a role in developing some elements of Tenri culture, such as its music, in a way that will help us to transmit the teachings to society.”
In conclusion, he stressed the significance of holding the pilgrimage with the minds of all followers of the path united together. Depicting the pilgrimage as an event in which the collective strength of the path is exercised, he said: “There is no doubt that our human resources, facilities, and all the know-how passed down to us by our forerunners are equally important for the pilgrimage to be continually held. Essential for the continuity of the pilgrimage are, however, the hinokishin efforts contributed by all followers of the path.”