When drowning in despair, we struggle to reach fresh air. Confronted with violence, we search for a reason to hope.

On Friday, Aug. 4, our book club members came together to discuss a book, “Sachiko,” written by Caren Stelson. Heidi Dybing, who has provided unwavering leadership for our group, had invited the author to be a guest at our meeting. 

Caren was well prepared with notes and visual illustrations to back up her presentation. The story of “Sachiko” took seven years of research and hundreds of interviews.

“Sachiko” was a little girl playing house with her friends when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. She was rescued from the rubble and was one of the few survivors. We are invited to join her on her journey to find peace and come to terms with the horror she experienced. Her journey led her to study the life of Ghandi, Mandela, the Rev. Martin Luther King and the spiritual insight offered by Helen Keller. 

The author, during the presentation, reached out to the group sitting in a circle and asked each one of us to share some thoughts from our own personal experience. Many of us had memories of the second World War and had relatives who fought in that war. 

Caren’s heart and soul are at the center of the narrative. As it turned out, a surprising turn led her to Lanesboro. She came to interview Orval Amdahl, a veteran of World War II. Orval had in his possession a sword that he brought back as a souvenir from Japan. He cared for it for 67 years but always felt it should be returned to the family of the original owner, the Motomurus family. Caren was able to facilitate its return.

This book, although written with simple eloquence, is powerful. The message is timeless. It affirms that love is stronger than hate and reason can overcome fear.

We are encouraged to sustain our faith and courage in order to meet the uncertainty of the path ahead.

Yvonne Nyenhuis,