On a recent trip to Japan on a spiritual pilgrimage, I was staying in a hotel in the sea city of Atami, with a balcony overlooking the great Pacific Ocean. Yukiko, my roommate, was a Japanese-born woman who moved me deeply with her quiet presence and inner strength, for she had battled a catastrophic illness and survived. For the first two nights, we had been simply too tired to pull ourselves out of bed to see the legendary sunrise over Atami’s waters, but on our last morning I was determined to share the beauty of it with her.

Just as the lush red dome was peeping over the horizon, I ran to the cold balcony in bare feet, calling out to Yukiko to follow. Each second this great eastern ball of fire rose higher and higher, fabulous in color and size, but Yukiko was nowhere to be found. I became so irritated she was missing the view. Where was she?

Then suddenly, seconds too late, she arrived at my shoulder looking a bit sheepish—holding out slippers and a heavier kimono for me. My heart broke. While I had been thinking only about the sunrise, she had been
thinking only of my comfort.

—Pamela Bloom, from THE POWER OF COMPASSION: Stories that Open the Heart, Heal the Soul and Change the World (Hampton Roads, 2010).

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