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Home for Christmas

by Makoto Fujimura

I find myself, as I am sure most of us do, the busiest during pre-Christmas days. Somehow, I choose those days of Advent to initiate major projects! I’ve lead two major cultural projects in Tokyo, one after 9/11/2001, and another after 3/11/2011 to bring music and art toward restoration. Two years ago, I brought a team of choir members from Cairn University to sing at a major exhibit I was having in Tokyo and to go up to northern Japan to encourage the homeless citizens there after the devastating Tsunami.

The following excerpt is from an essay I wrote a year ago, remembering that time. In that essay, I spoke of our journey as “Ground Zero” citizens—we lived three blocks from where the towers stood. We stayed to see our children all grow up there, facing the ashes of Ground Zero. I spoke of our efforts to love New York City as God has called us to love our “Babylon” through Jeremiah 29: “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

But, paradoxically, God moved us to a farmhouse—where my wife and I now reside as empty-nesters and where I work in a barn converted into a studio—still seeking that “city.” You will see a glimpse of our new life there and what Christmas morning felt like two years ago, with God’s Kingdom and God’s City invading into the horse barn. May our journeys inhabit such a Christmas morning miracle, and may we create toward that light.

Thus I landed at Newark Airport on Christmas Eve. I had not been inside the farmhouse, except one time to see the house and to speak to the real estate agent. Judy had diligently arranged for the move and bought a car. My children had all gathered. My eldest, Ty, and his wife, Priscilla, had a baby boy, Theo, in the summer months. We all slept on air mattresses among the boxes on Christmas Eve in Belle Mead. The next day, we awoke to the morning sun rays beaming in from our northern windows.

At our home, we celebrate Christmas by first reading Luke 2. When we gathered, I suggested that we all go out in the barn and read, using the Four Holy Gospels Bible.

The barn, similar in size to the famed Jackson Pollock barn in the Hamptons, smelled of fresh hay and the pungent remains of horses. Horses named Bunny and Harley lived there only a week ago—before their owners took them to Vermont. Bunny was a white horse, very frail and old, and rarely came out of the barn. But apparently the day they moved, she came out and walked about the acres, dragging her bad leg around the cold, hardened soil of winter.

Lydia, our youngest, opened the Four Holy Gospels Bible to read from Luke 2. Priscilla had wrapped Theo, as it was very cold in the barn. "This is how our Lord entered into our world—in a cold, dark place full of horse manure," I said before we prayed. Theo cooed. We prayed to thank God for taking us there, for all of our journeys of grace. Like Bunny, we carry wounds from the past, visible or not. A few months later, I would be painting large paintings for a new series of works intuiting those wounds into the world. In a painting, these painful markers can be integrated into the whole of nature and turned into a glimpse of a Christmas morning miracle. Yes, I said to myself, we are empty-nesters, but children, like the bluebirds, return once in the while to survey the field of the farmland. And in those moments, I do see a glimpse of the whole, woven like the bluebird's nest—a vision of iridescent splendor refracting in a new home that we call Fuji farm.

Reprinted with kind permission of the author from

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