“There will be great joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:7)
There is a painter and poet named Tomihiro Hoshino. His beautiful and delicate paintings of flowers accompanied by poems have moved and encouraged many people. However, he lost all his bodily freedom from the neck down when he accidentally fell head first while performing a model somersault during a club activity on June 17, 1970, at the age of 24. His loss was just too much for him. But when God takes something from us, He always gives us something equal or greater. When God closes the door to our past, He always opens the door to a new future at the same time.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us the parable of the lost sheep and the lost silver coin. Usually when we lose something, we ask God to give us back the same thing we lost. But God returns it to us more abundantly in another form, sometimes in the form of adversity or even seeming disadvantage, but we are often unaware of it. God’s grace often comes in a different form.
This man, too, was lying on his bed, unable to turn over, spending his days just staring up at the ceiling. In the midst of all this desperation, one day his mother’s hand, which had been spooning his meals into his mouth every day, trembled and spilled the soup all over his face. This slight caused his daily frustration to pile up, and he spat out a grain of rice from his mouth at his mother and in spite of himself shouted, “Damn it, I’m not eating any more, old hag. I don’t care what happens to me. I wish you had never given birth to me.” His mother cried silently, but after a while, when she tried to brush a fly off his face, her hand invol-untarily touched his face. The warmth of her moist hand, the rough but soft touch of her hand, was the first time he knew of his mother’s love.
Then one day, a boy in the same hospital room came to ask him to write a note. He may or may not have known that he was paralyzed from the neck down, but he kept on asking. He finally made up his mind. He finally decided to write with a pen in his mouth. He lifted his head slightly and after a long time finally managed to draw a small black dot on a piece of colored paper. This marked the beginnings of the poet and painter Tomihiro Hoshino. Two years later, under the influence of a classmate and friend who became a pastor, he was baptized in his hospital room in 1974.
Before he was hospitalized, his mother didn’t seem very attractive to him, as she spent her days on all fours in the field, shoveling dirt, and her nights whining about the lack of money under a dim electric light while she worked side jobs. He himself said that if he had not been paralyzed from the neck down by an injury, he would have been a proud and unhappy man who would never have known his mother’s love for him.
Here are some of Tomihiro Hoshino’s poems.
“If God could move my arm just once
I would tap my mother on the shoulder.
As I looked at the shepherd’s purse grass fruit
I felt as if such a day would really come.”
“When I thought that life was the most important thing
living was hard for me.
The day I learned that there is something more important than life
I was happy to be alive.”
“This road is a thorny one.
But even among the thorns
a faintly fragrant flower blooms.
Because I love that flower
I’ll go on this road.”
“I have a wound,
but through the wounds
your kindness seeps through.”