For Lack Of A Pack04.19.11

Life is pretty normal in Tokyo though stores are still running a few shortages of items which are grown or manufactured along the northern Pacific coast of Japan. Although some of these shortages are due to lack of the product itself, there is another big reason: lack of a small but important part of the packaging. Take, for example, natto, one of the most basic love-it-or-leave it foods here in Japan. Made from soybeans that have been fermented until they begin to dissolve into a viscous brown and yellow goo, natto is a wonder food: nutritious and cheap, filled with vitamins, minerals, protein, probiotics, and things science has yet to identify. Depending on who you ask, it may prevent cancer, blood clots, Alzheimers, and any number of other unhealthy situations. In Gunma, it is traditionally mixed with raw sliced green onions, a spot of hot mustard and vinegary soy sauce, then eaten with hot rice and perhaps a raw egg on top. I’ve never been able to eat it this way (or most of the other ways it is offered), but if I were able, I’d probably live a lot longer.

Natto is usually packed and sealed in individual serving cups or tiny Styrofoam boxes. Inside the lid, across the top layer of the natto is a thin sheet of special paper, something akin to tissue-thin wax paper. This seals in the goodness, prevents spoilage and texture change. And that is the part that is missing. True, some natto manufacturing companies have been damaged by the earthquake reducing total production capacity, but more can be produced than can be packaged at this point. The limiting factor is the shortage of thin special paper which covers the surface.

Natto manufacturers will either have to find a different way to package natto, import the paper from other countries which also produce it, or wait until the paper factories in Japan are rebuilt. There are no doubt complexities with any of the three options though many of my friends are eager to see a solution found.

For lack of a pack…Japan has very few Christians, and the rate of people finding new life in Christ is also low. The US has many Christians…but the rate of people finding new life in Christ is also regrettably low. What’s the bottleneck? One thought that occurs to me is this: Too many of us lack the “pack,” lives that will allow the treasure in us to be carried long distances, handled by different people in different ways, and yet still retain the goodness and essential texture of the Gospel. Perhaps we are missing the outer cup which would allow us to mingle with a variety of people who think differently than we do without getting bent out of shape. Some of us might be missing the thin sheet of special paper which protects the goodness and freshness and seals out contaminants. Some of us are no doubt low on the essential ingredient in the first place. Soybeans+good bacteria+ time=natto; for a Christian, the essence is the truth of God permeating all of our thinking, emotions, and actions as we live listening to the Spirit in committed relationships with others.

Is the “good stuff” in you ready to move out of the processing plant and into the streets, stores, and homes of our world? There are a whole lot of people waiting for it…


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Posted by Andrea Johnson under Uncategorized.

5 Responses to “For Lack Of A Pack”

  1. Andy, for me the change happened when I learned that my thoughts aren’t real. When people learn that all of that noise in our head is just noise and we release to the perfect Now, then we will all know and BE in God. There is nothing left to add. Nothing. And, we will Be the Vibration of Love. The message of the Cross this Easter is to Let Go and Be.
    A Happy Easter to you and your whole family. I’m honored to have traveled this road with you for 32 years. Couldn’t think of a better Peep in my Easter basket. I love you!

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    Posted by Julie on 12/13/09 April 19th, 2011 at 10:58 PMReply

  2. Andrea, thank you for this meaningful word. It speaks much.
    Hope you guys have a meaningful Holy Week and a blessed Easter.

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    Posted by Eva on 12/13/09 April 19th, 2011 at 11:39 PMReply

  3. Thank you for this Andy! As Steve and I sat with our Jewish friends and their family last night at their Passover Seder I was reminded of God’s covenant with Abraham, that he was blessed to be a blessing. I thought how blessed we had been through this friendship over the years and how privileged and honored we felt to be invited into their family celebration. There was much joy, warmth, and abundance around the beautifully laid table, and as we all shared in the reading of the Haggadah I was touched again by the wonder of God’s faithfulness through the years, his provision so generously given, and His invitation to join His family, celebrate Him, and His redemption. As we continue to feed on Him, may the wine of His love and bread of His life be continually poured out and freely given to those with whom we come into contact each day because He is alive in us. Wishing you and your family a blessed Easter. Christ is risen indeed! Myrna

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    Posted by myrna olson on 12/13/09 April 20th, 2011 at 1:40 AMReply

  4. Thanks again, Andrea, for your descriptive, thoughtful blog. I am sharing them all with pastor Randy.

    At this MOST WONDERFUL time — EASTER — we realize anew how very blessed we have been and are. The family heritage for both of us is rich in memories of celebrating the RESURRECTION!

    I am trusting that some of our EASTER joy will escape from the pack in our neighborhood!

    Love to all of you,

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    Posted by Arleen Johnson on 12/13/09 April 21st, 2011 at 4:42 AMReply

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