The following is a translation of Part 42 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the June 2006 (No. 450) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.
Part 42: “God’s Gifts Are Free and Unlimited”
Zenroku and Shina Okamoto of Nagahara Village, Yamato Province were blessed with seven children. However, only their eldest son Eitaro and their youngest daughter Kan grew to adulthood as five of their children either died in infancy or a result of a miscarriage.
In 1879, Zenroku and Shina greatly matured in their faith after Eitaro was saved from an outbreak of fever. In the summer of 1881, Shina was faced with a serious dilemma. Someone from the household of Tarobei Imada, a landowning farmer from Shoji Village, located about one li (approximately four kilometers) from Nagahara Village, came with the following request: “We have just celebrated the birth of our eldest, but are troubled because his mother has no breast milk. Could you some how care for him? As impossible our request may seem, we ask that you please agree to it.”
Unfortunately, Shina had no breast milk to spare at the time and had no means to accept the request at the time, saying: “I am sorry, but there is no way that I can accept.”
Yet the Imada household persisted, “But please, couldn’t you somehow….?”
“No matter how much money you may have, or how much rice you may have in the storehouse, it cannot be given to an infant. There is no greater salvation than to care for and raise another person’s child.”
Shina then said, “I understand,” and pressed: “But, I do not have any more breast milk. Should I accept to take care for the child even then?”
Oyasama then gave Shina the following words:
“If you just have the sincere mind to take care of the child, because God’s gifts are free and unlimited, God will work to provide all that is needed. You need not worry.”
Resolving that she would rely on God, she sent the reply, “I will take care of your child.”
The child was then brought from Shoji Village at once. Shina was astonished when he saw him. He must have been fed only on rice water and sugar water. He had been one month premature, and was now a little more than three months old, skinny, without the strength even to cry, just barely able to whimper.
Shina embraced the child and tried to nurse him, but milk would not flow so soon. The child became peevish and bit her nipple. She was worried for a while because she did not know what to do.
This continued for two or three days, and then, marvelously, her milk began to flow. Thanks to her milk the child grew stronger day by day and became quite healthy. Later Shina took this robust child to the Residence. Oyasama embraced him and rewarded Shina with these words:
“Shina, you have done a good thing.”
By obeying Oyasama’s words, Shina saw and experienced with her very being the free and unlimited workings of God the Parent. The above occurred in when Shina was 26 years old.
Reference: Kohon Tenrikyo Oyasama den itsuwa hen.
- Next installment in this series: 43. The Joy of Having Nothing
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
Further suggested reading
Refer to Anecdotes of Oyasama 86, “Great Salvation” (pp. 62–63) for an English translation of the source of the story recounted above and “Great Salvation” from Koji Sato’s Omichi no joshiki for another account and accompanying commentary. (I admit that there is very little difference between these two and the account here, especially toward the end.)