I have never sailed on the South China Sea before, but I realized that the ocean is speaking with the same voice as when I am sailing along the Norwegian coast. The rain is coming with the wind and hitting your face in the same way, and the waves are building with the same strength and smashing against the ship side and moving the ship exactly the same way. I have never thought of this. But it made me feel very much at home along the coast of Japan as we were sailing towards Okinawa. Five young people from mainland China filled the week with laughter and fun, charmed us in different ways with their playful and very inclusive behavior. They impressed me with thoughtful and well articulated inputs, but first of all with all their joy and contagious laughter.
Again I realized that the ocean is speaking with the same deep tone outside the coast of China as it is along the coast of my homeland.
The last evening our new friends from China shared with us how life changing this Peace Cruise had been for each one of them. How they would bring a lot of deep learning back to their YMCAs at home in China. The mike goes from person to person. The sharing goes deep. The ocean seems to have the same voice over at the other side of the Atlantic. Jon, our new friend from the USA, tells us that this week together with young and not so young people from 16 nations has been his best YMCA conference ever. And he is not young, so he has crossed many oceans in his life.
A good friend from School of Peace – Bruce
The mike comes to our two young ladies from Taiwan, they struggle with language to express themselves as they want, it is so important for them to say this. So these two girls from Taiwan go over to the girls from mainland China and ask them to help translate from Mandarin to English. And their message? It is about the eye opening and heart warming new contacts between them from the island of Taiwan and their new friends from the mainland! I hear the sound of the ocean, and it is the sound of the South China Sea, and at the same time it is the sound of all oceans everywhere as the big waves are moving us up and down in their own rhythms. We all agree that a real highlight this week was to meet the lady of Hiroshima, the 14 year girl who thought that the sun fell as the atomic bomb exploded in front of her. She is like one from another world, a stranger with experiences none of us have a chance to understand. Tears are running. Then the 84 years old lady from Hiroshima stands up and smiles to us and say: I can laugh, I can hug, I can dance at the Captain’s dinner! And as I give the little lady a big hug I can again hear the sound of the ocean around me, and we are all part of the same family, we are all sisters and brothers and grandmothers. The 65 YMCA sailors from the first ever YMCA/Peace Boat peace cruise have sailed for 9 days and nights with the universal sound of the big ocean around us and we have grown together as friends for life. Nothing less. We have talked and laughed, we have cried and been sad together and we have learnt that war can start from inside ourselves. But we have also realized and learnt that peace and love come from the same place, and when we use the language of love, we need not worry about all the other languages to understand that we are all in the same boat – surrounded by the universal sounds of the oceans around us. And as we land in Japan, in Hakata, Fukuoka, the cherry trees are in full blossoming. It was a week full of blessings. Amongst them the visit to His Excellency President Ma of Taiwan. As I took some time for myself to reflect on this impressive week and I was staring out on the wide open sea, I all of a sudden got a beautiful thought that have stayed with me since. I have never thought like this ever before, but I realized that when I listened to the deep sound of the ocean around us, I had in fact also listened to the eternal voice of God, the voice that unites us all as humanity. That thought put a big, broad smile upon my face as I turned around and walked under the cherry trees. And a special thanks goes to Gilbert from Taiwan and all his friends who took so well care of us! And of course a warm thank you to Yoshioka and Yoko and all the other fine representatives from Peace Boat!