Tulips at Ground Zero

A wise colleague, talking about the devastation felt by an abandonned child, gave the analogy of Ground Zero at Hiroshima. I had to smile, partly in recognition of the aptness of the image but also in seeing the possibility of hope. I have been to the epicentre of the nuclear bomb blast at Hiroshima with my son and his Japanese friend. On the train journey there we made tiny, coloured, paper cranes and when we arrived we hung our strings alongside others in shelters especially built for the purpose, then walked around the Peace Park which that place has become.

Yes, there are shockingly sad images. There is a huge mound of gritty white dust that is made up of  the ashes of many of the people who died there. The photos and artifacts in the museum are moving, particularly the small human items: a man's pipe, half a dozen rice bowls stacked to dry after breakfast on that day fused together in the heat.

But there are also trees, flowers, smooth paths to walk around, sculptures and a strong sense of the Japanese people's commitment to peace. A lasting image for me is of the bed of bright red and yellow tulips flourishing in front of the peace monument.

It's over ten years since I was there, but bringing out the photos in response to my colleague's words, I'm reminded again of the amazing resilience people can show in the face of horror and how important it is to cultivate an attitude of hope. The picture of the tulips brings me special pleasure.

As Martin Luther said: Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.