In Gratitude for 50 Years of Friendship, Fellowship

Listening to former Bishop Rev. Umezu speaking at the BCA Eitaikyo Service on YouTube on Feb. 28 reminds me of my many karmic encounters with him that have now spanned nearly half a century.

I am grateful for his 50 years of untiring diligence in trying to help the hopeless me open my true Nembutsu heart.

Rev. Umezu first arrived in America in 1973 and was assigned to the Fresno Betsuin. He likes to tell the story that our first encounter was when I came to Betsuin office dressed in a Boy Scout uniform. At that time, he spoke very little English and the Betsuin enrolled him in a local junior college class on journalism (to help him write Betsuin bulletin articles), and to the great surprise of both of us, we ended up in that same class!

I am sure some would call it “fate” or “karma,” but for me, I am now sure this was the Buddha’s request for me to work together with Umezu Sensei in his ministry.

From the first day of that class, when I began working together with him to help him with his English and continuing to this day for nearly 50 years now … what karma!