The Holy Night
written by Shion
translated by Giko
Oh, little town of Bethlehem, why you are all alone,
Only stars are shining, all the rest is sound asleep,
Unaware, tonight, in the dark of the night,
the eternal light will be shone...
As if the dew falls quietly,
the gift of grace comes down to the earth.
Who knows that such grace
comes to such a sinful world
from the heaven above
----Hymn # 115, the birth of Jesus Christ----
(From a Japanese hymn : Japanese hymnal)
On that day, Masumi and Maya were attending a Christmas vigil at a certain church in Tokyo.
The Christmas happened to be on Sunday in that year. Sunday mass happened to be a Christmas mass. It was a lucky day of coincidence that would happen only once in several years.
The opening music was by the pipe-organ. The mass began with the procession of the choir.
In attentive silence, the congregation was quietly filled with the joy of Christmas and the ecstasy of their faith.
In this historical church that has a stone steeple, the serene and pellucid chorus resonates for a long time up through the high steeple.
Maya could not understand the words of foreign, probably Latin, hymns.
But when she heard the chorus of the faithful approaching with increasing volume and its resonance in the air in this stone structure, she had goose-bumps and her eyes became filled with tears.
It was a natural reaction when a person was shook in the heart.
Beside her, Masumi was bowing her heard down in such intensity.
As the priest said an opening prayer, the mass began.
The choir sings the liturgy. It is a solemn and holy time. There is no other time like this...
Two years ago. Maya was receiving divine revelation on the first day of the "Kurenai-Tennyo (Scarlet Heavenly Maiden)" performance just like Tsukikage Chigusa.
Chigusa had told Maya that it was the feeling of yourself being the universe. But it came to her in a different manner.
All of a sudden, everything became all dark.
Maya felt as if that her eyes were shot by an arrow of strong light.
Masumi was among the audience.
Masumi's existence itself came over to Maya and overwhelmed her.
In a split second in the bright light, Masumi and Maya held hands tightly together in spirit.
They were united high up heaven, leaving the present time frame for the solitude.
That was the moment Maya found the other part of her soul.
Performers often have such a psychological experience on a stage, which is an extreme and closed environment for artistic expression.
For Maya, it was divine revelation that set the direction of her performance for "Kurenai-Tennyo".
Theater is a living creature.
While it looks like a repetition of the same performance, depending on the psychological state of the audience and performers, every stage will be different.
Maya's "Kurenai-Tennyo" also went through complicated changes and improvements over the three-month long run.
Masumi is to come on the middle day and the last day.
The middle day performance of Maya had increased its complexity and sacredness compared to that of the first day.
Three days after the last performance, Masumi is to marry Takamiya Shiori. Even with this reality, Maya feels that she has a soul mate in Masumi.
No reality could be a hurdle for Maya's such conviction.
On the last day of the production, as Masumi watched, Maya beautifully completed her first stage of "Kurenai-Ten-nyo(Scarlet Heavenly Maiden)".
During the curtain call, Maya and Masumi exchanged a glance for a moment. It instantly created an unbreakable bond between the two.
In reality, their relationship was that of between the holder of the right to performance and her administrator. But knowing the feelings toward each other, they were united purely in spirit.
On that day, Maya Kitajima and her "Kurenai Ten-nyo" became a jewel in the theatrical world.
Three days later, Masumi and Shiori had a wedding.
Despite her busy schedule, Maya was attending the ceremony. Having overcome one hard trial already, Maya was there only to wish for Masumi's practical happiness in this world.
That was enough for Maya.
On the other hand, Masumi could not reach the same emotional state as Maya did.
All he could do was to deal with the severe reality with whatever ability he had.
That night, Masumi declared to Shiori that their marriage was a political one. Superficially, he will take care of her as a wife in order to honor the name of Takamiya.
But do not ask for anything more of him. He told her. He also added that she should know very well why he feels this way.
Masumi became busier than ever due to the joint operation with Takatsu.
In public, he would go out with Shiori. But at home, he did not make any effort to be with her. They did not share the bedroom, either.
His busy schedule and Maya's great achievement in theater barely kept his emotional balance.
Shiori, even though she invited it on herself ,developed psychological problem due to an unhappy married life and solitude.
She has started taking tranquilizers and sleeping pills habitually. These drugs weaken hearts.
After a year and a half, Shiori's weakened body and soul could no longer face the reality of her life.
One early morning in early spring, she went out for a walk after sleepless night. By the time she came back home, her body was chilled through. She took a morning bath. There, she had a heart attack and died.
She was only twenty-seven years old. A cruel god reigns like this.
Even Masumi could not keep a cool mask.
This is just like Maya's mother.
I killed her.
Am I a sinner?
Since then, Masumi constantly suffered from despair and guilt.
Why does fate make fun of me like this?
Why does a person have to accept the outcome like this?
Was a person created sinful from the beginning?
Masumi was suffering greatly inside. There seems to be no salvation.
A little more than six months later, when the initial shock became finally eased, Masumi suddenly though of Maya and asked her out.
Will you stay with me on Christmas?
Maya accepted the invitation right away, knowing Masumi's pain.
Finally, it was December twenty-fifth.
It was Maya who insisted on going to mass. She knew how Christmas was celebrated in Europe from Ayumi and Hamil.
The congregation all stood up and sang a hymn.
Masumi and Maya also stood up along with other attendants.
The chorus of about three hundred people resonated beautifully inside the church.
Masumi felt as if its beauty would save him, only by being here among these people.
The mass progressed as the Lord's Prayer was said and the Confession of Faith was recited. Then the Salm 51 was read.
"Have mercy on me, O god,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
This passage struck the core of Masumi's heart, despite that he was not familiar with Christianity at all.
It was because it represented his very feelings.
During the prayers, both of them put their hands together and closed their eyes as the faithful did.
The priest's voice reflected a mysterious combination of piety and purity. As you listen to him, your heart is cleansed.
The communion started. The foreign choir boys who had been invited were given the Host by the priest.
The two of them silently watched this unfamiliar ritual that was taking place right in front of their eyes. Then the special prayers were said.
Next was the baptismal ceremony for a few fortunate people, who would be baptized on Christmas.
A drop tear came down the cheeks of a young girl, when she received holy water from the priest.
Masumi thought that he could understand the meaning of the tears instinctively.
The invited foreign boy choir's chorus echoed beautifully once again inside the church.
It was a cappella.
It cleanses the listeners' body and soul.
Once again, everybody stood up and sang the hymn. The hymn #324.
"Lord Christ poured out rich mercy to this body, which was seeking salvation. This body was not worthy to receive his mercy. Yet, he showed so much mercy and saved it. I love my Lord even more."
Religious sentiment stimulates the emotions in the core of a human being.
Without reason, Masumi and Maya were filled with the words and music.
Why has this one religion been believed by many and lasted for over 2000 years?
Masumi felt that he could understand the reason.
Jesus Christ died on the cross for all the sins of the humanity. If an individual believes in Him as the savior, his sin will be redeemed.
This is the teaching of Christianity. Without knowing this, Masumi was beginning to understand what religion was, what sin was, what salvation was, what love was, during the mass.
Then, he reflected on himself.
Beside him quietly was Maya.
A person can be saved.
However sinful he may be.
For there was somebody who carried the burden of sin.
Then, I shall be one of those humans who will be saved.
Masumi had not known that there existed such a way of life that thankfully accepts even troubles and suffering.
The selfless attitude where a person leaves everything "for God's will".
This is it. This is what I have been looking for.
Masumi's tormented heart burdened by the marriage to Shiori and her death was gradually becoming peaceful and gently cleansed.
And beside him is a woman he loves dearly.
I thought I was miserable.
But I was mistaken. Our misery and happiness are beyond humans' control.
All I have to do is to humbly accept everything.
When Masumi thought of this, he felt liberated and relieved as if all of his burdens were lifted.
Then he sighed deeply.
Maya pretended not noticing it.
Hayami-san, I am glad...
Maya felt as if she could read his mind.
The mass was near the end. The congregation stood up and sang doxology and blessing was given.
By the time Masumi sat down and listened to the closing music, he felt as if he were reborn to be someone else.
Masumi felt from the bottom of his heart that he was glad that he had come. Had Maya foreseen this to happen...?
The Sunday mass on Christmas was concluded in the joy of the people. The congregation gradually left the church in various directions.
It was just past noon. The parishioners were inviting people to a parish party which was to be held in the afternoon.
Maya decided to attend it and invited Masumi along.
Simple lunches were handed out. First, there was a lecture by an invited teacher. Then, the rest was a friendly exchange among the attendants, including everyone's self-introduction and little playful games.
No one here knows either Kitajima Maya nor Hayami Masumi. They found that relaxing.
After enough chatting, a prayer was said once again, and the party was over.
It was already close to 4 in the afternoon.
"What are we going to do now, young lady?"
Masumi asked Maya as he opened a passenger-side door.
"What are you going to do, Mr. Hayami?"
"It is not fair to answer a question by another question."
Oh, it is Mr. Hayami's genuine smile, thought Maya and she was truly happy. Today was right.
"Shall we drive for a little while?"
They decided to have a little ride around.
Being a little after four thirty, it was beginning to be dark.
Because it was Sunday, the Tokyo Express High Way was not crowded, even though it was at the end of the year.
Neon lights were starting to light up the city.
Inside the car, the two were silent, watching passing scenery. It was enough for them.
The car made a steep curve into Daisan Keihin High Way and now was driving toward Yokohama.
The vision of wintry dusk was clearly seen from the High Way.
Masumi parked the car in Yokohama Chinatown.
"You are from Yokohama, right?"
"Yes. I miss it."
The two had dinner at a hole in a wall of the Chinatown.
"Thank you for today. How did you know such a place?"
"It is Ayumi who told me about it. I only got the information from her."
"I see. You are right."
"Gee, thanks a lot!"
They looked at each other in the eye and laughed.
Once again, they drove. The car went around the harbor and got on the High Way again.
"I have a weekend-house in Izu. I am taking you there now. You do not mind, do you?"
Whether she minded it or not, she was already inside the car.
Masumi accelerated the speed once he was on the High Way.
The car's speed alarm was ringing.
Maya was a little frightened. But at the same time she was excited. It was 140 kilometers per hour.
Other cars' tail lamps were passing by brightly.
The scenery around was flying by.
Maya thought Masumi marvellous, as she watched him passed by other cars one after another.
The light in the house was now turned on. Masumi quickly turned on the heater.
"Are you cold?"
"I am fine."
"Sit there and relax. I will make coffee."
"You make coffee?"
"Sure. I always do that here."
The coffee had wonderful roasted fragrance. They also felt liberated, being alone. Naturally, they became relaxed.
Masumi and Maya sat side by side on a sofa.
"I had pains for a long time. But, today, you lifted it up. I cannot believe it."
As he said this, he leaned back on the sofa.
"Was it any use for you?"
"Yes. That is right."
"It has been always me who has been protected by Hayami-san. I just wanted to do something for you."
"It was an interesting place. I have never been to such a place."
"It is because you are a workaholic president of a company. Maybe your world has become too small."
Masumi laughed a little.
"You sound like a big girl now. I have known you for so long."
"I think that the experience of "Kurenai Ten-nyo" changed me."
"...I think you are right."
The silence was not awkward for them. There was a gentle, warm, relaxed air surrounding them.
Masumi became deep in thought for a moment. Maya was silent beside him.
"Ah... yes, I am sorry."
"May I stay here overnight?"
"...If you do not mind sharing a bed with me."
Masumi said carefully. Then he looked into Maya's face.
Maya did not know what to say, but did not reject him.
Their stares at each other gradually became heated.
Literally, a holy night, a sacred night was to begin for the two of them.
"Am I a Christmas present for you?"
"Well, today is a special day, the day of birth of Christ."
Adeste Fideles, which they heard at the church that day, resonated in their minds. "The son of God is born in Bethlehem tonight."
"I want this day to be special also for two of us. Do you like that?"
"Yes, yes, Mr. Hayami. I always thought that it would be only you to whom I would give myself---"
Tonight, Maya will be renewed by Masumi. New Maya will be born.
Tonight, Masumi will step into a new world, led by Maya.
Tonight is a consecrated night.
Let there be eternal blessings of merciful God for this night for the two of them and for the two of them of this night.
That night, on Masumi's bed, the two were united for the first time after so many years and so many troubles.
They formed a firm bond both in spirit and in flesh.
It was thoroughly a holy night.
They spent the night all by themselves in gratitude toward each other.
Whatever happens to them in the future, they will never forget tonight for the rest of their lives.
It was their holy night.
"Blessing and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. Amen, Amen."
(Handel, "MESSIAH" the last piece.)
Translated by Giko.
This is Giko' message
Dear All, I am sure that there are some mistakes. But please overlook them, because I think that the fundamental story line has been captured and delivered.
Special thanks to my dear class mate, Giko, From Shion.