On horrors, heroes, and a rescued kitten

 “forest clearing" is 5x7, painted with Japanese watercolors and sumi ink on paper. It is one of the new pieces in  my 2019 calendar.  A greeting card version reading “all is calm, all is bright” is available as a single card or set of eight notecards. © Annette Makino 2018

“forest clearing" is 5x7, painted with Japanese watercolors and sumi ink on paper. It is one of the new pieces in my 2019 calendar. A greeting card version reading “all is calm, all is bright” is available as a single card or set of eight notecards. © Annette Makino 2018

Perhaps it’s the dark times we’re living through, but lately I have been drawn to stories of heroes and rescuers. Like this New York Times piece titled “The Japanese Man Who Saved 6,000 Jews With His Handwriting,” which describes the work of Chiune Sugihara, who ran the Japanese consulate in Lithuania during World War II. 

Defying his government and sacrificing his career, he issued transit visas to Jews fleeing German-occupied Poland, writing as many visas in a day as were normally issued in a month. His wife would massage his painfully cramped hands every evening.

When he was finally forced to leave the country, he threw visas out the train window to refugees on the platform. The article says that more than 40,000 people are alive today because of this one man. 

He once explained, “I told the Ministry of Foreign Affairs it was a matter of humanity. I did not care if I lost my job. Anyone else would have done the same thing if they were in my place.”

The photoblog Humans of New York recently ran a series on heroes of the Rwandan genocide. I was especially moved by the story of a brave pastor who hid more than three hundred people in his church, saving their lives. 

An excerpt from his story: “The next time the killers came, there were fifty of them. All of them had guns or machetes… Every time I recognized a face, I called to him by name. I said: ‘When I die, I am going to heaven. Where will you go?’ … Some of the killers grew nervous. They began to argue amongst themselves. Nobody wanted to be the first to kill… And they began to leave, one by one, until all of them had run off.”

Most of us will never have our courage tested to this extreme. Day-to-day, our heroism may consist of nothing more than rescuing a spider from the bathtub. But when the need arises, we can step up however we are called. 

 Amelia and her friend Austin feed Renaldo with a dropper at two weeks old. (Photo: Maya Makino)

Amelia and her friend Austin feed Renaldo with a dropper at two weeks old. (Photo: Maya Makino)

For example, my daughter’s friend Amelia was out running last month when her dog alerted her to a two-day-old kitten abandoned by the side of the road. She took him home and spent weeks feeding him formula from a dropper every three hours, day and night. 

 Renaldo at four weeks, eyes open and ready for adventure.

Renaldo at four weeks, eyes open and ready for adventure.

Despite all her care, it was not clear if this tiny hairless bundle would survive. But now he is a healthy, curious five-week-old named Renaldo who is busy exploring his world. A world that includes its share of suffering, but also people who show great compassion and courage in times of need. And for that I am grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!

forest clearing
the tenderness
inside us all

Makino Studios News

Thanksgiving sale: Use promo code TAKE20 to get 20% off all orders over $20. Sale runs through this coming Monday, November 26.

Made in Humboldt event: You can now find my calendars, prints and boxed notecards at the “Made in Humboldt” event at Pierson Garden Shop through Dec. 24.

Holiday fair: Makino Studios will have a booth at just one fair this holiday season: the Holiday Craft Market, Dec. 8-9 in the Arcata Community Center. 

New holiday notecards: Check out my four designs of boxed holiday notecards!

2019 calendar: This 2019 mini-calendar of art and haiku makes a great holiday gift—and don’t forget one for yourself!