Sunday, December 23, 2012

1000 Cranes

Something special happened yesterday.

1000 origami cranes were delivered to my sister by a high school classmate who had enlisted other graduates to contribute to the project and show their support for her battle against cancer. Accompanying the huge pile of colorful cranes with wings spread wide was a plaque with these words burned into the wood:

Senbazuru - 1000 Cranes
The ancient Japanese tradition of Senbazuru promises
that if a person folds 1000 Origami Cranes or if their
friends and family perform this labor of love on their
behalf, that person will be granted a wish.

These cranes were folded with Love and Hope for
Pat Reed Tanner
By her Dragon Brothers and Sisters

The project was deeply meaningful because of our Japanese heritage and wonderful memories of growing up on Okinawa.

What struck me about this symbolic gift was how a community can impact one individual in simple but profound ways. When a community joins hands, something powerful, even miraculous, emerges.

Encouragement. Hope. Solidarity. Healing. Courage. Strength. And most of all, LOVE.

There are many ways a community can express support. Often they are rooted in cultural traditions like a quilt created by a group of women for a wedding shower or a "barn raising" to help a family whose home was lost. For the Japanese culture, 1000 origami cranes.

Makeshift public memorials have become more popular as a way for a community to share in the grief and loss of a member.

Whatever expression is chosen by a community, it can help to infuse hope into the one who needs to know she is not alone in what she faces. But it's also redemptive for the community.

Besides a way to deal with their own grief, a community needs to see visible signs of their own compassion. It gives hope that all is not lost, that there is still good in the face of evil, that we are still capable of loving well.

One paper crane is fragile but when you see 1000 paper cranes, a miracle happens and one's own fragility is transformed into strength.


  1. Thank you for sharing Harriet.

  2. Wonderful story. :-)

  3. Thank you for sharing your perspective on the situation. You have been such a great support structure for your family. With those things going on in the PNW and then again in Florida, I commend you for your stick to itness (is that even a word?). I hope to see you again sometime soon.

    I don't expect to see a response but know this, your kid sister is on my mind on a regular basis.

    1. Thanks, Bob. You are part of this story too.