by Kazue Hayes

I have two mothers.
One is my birth mother, and the other one is my foster mother.
It has been 30 years since my foster mother, Principal Miki Sawada passed away.
Last May, I went back to Elizabeth Saunders Home in Japan, where her 30th year memorial service was taking place.
Some incident led her establish Elizabeth Saunders Home, devoting her life, her family and everything she had for the future of the neglected children of mixed race who were born during the post World War II period. Who would want to raise children who are not your own?
Principal Sawada was kind, strong, and sometimes like a feared parent to me and other foster children. Her presence made us feel peaceful.
I had thought that nobody loved me during my life with her for 14 years. Several years after her passing away, I heard how much Principal Sawada had loved me, but I couldn’t believe it.
She liked lilies so much. The chapel was full of lilies. At the center of the lilies was her smiling face.
When I said to her, "I'm home," tears came and something in my heart snapped.
Several days later, when I attended a Shinnyo-en service, I understood what that something really was.
I hated my life at Elizabeth Saunders Home. Now I have gratitude toward her. It is also my repentance for my absence of gratitude.
I didn't want to admit having gratitude toward her, but now I can.
I have joy because I can now say to her from my heart, "Thank you very much for raising me and loving me."
I sometimes remember what she used to say to me, "I believe someday you will become a person who leads people because you can."
In the second year since I was connected to the Shinnyo Teaching, I received a sesshin.
"Why was I born as a mixed race child even though I'm a Japanese?" I asked.
The spiritual words: That's because the Buddha chose me to become a person whom all the people who are worried, who are suffering, and who are sad can rely on, and the Buddha believes I can.
I used to be a person who couldn’t trust anybody.
Now the Shinnyo Teaching made me a person who has tears of joy and gratitude in my heart.
As a sono-uta reads: "Though human, we are bodhisattvas when we dedicate ourselves for others," Principal Sawada didn't think of herself, but she prayed for the children's happiness.
On another day, when I was asked, "If you are reborn as a human again, who would you like to be your mother?" I answered, "My birth mother."
I used to hate and I used to have a grudge toward my birth mother. However, I came to think like this: Because of her, I was born into this world and was eventually able to encounter the Shinnyo Teaching.
Here I'd like to show my gratitude again. I'm very thankful for being protected by my ancestors, by my family, and by people around me.
Whenever I am going through a hard time, I read those sono-utas:
Pray earnestly and devotedly with utmost sincerity. If this is done, no matter how heavy the burden of karma might be, it would be sure to be eliminated.
Should anything turn to the worse, accept it complacently. Open the eyes of wisdom and see the brightness ahead.
Make the mind of faith immovable and adamant.
I have made up my mind: Whatever happens, I will do my best to protect Shinnyo Keishu-sama and the Shinnyo Teaching.
Gratitude – I became to be able to comprehend it through many "riburai (spiritual indications)."
When you'd like to convey your gratitude toward someone, please try to say "Thank you," with your courage.
Then your heart will be clear, and you will understand the meaning of being kept alive.
Thank you.