Tag Archives: Tokyo

Narita Express

view from my seat

view from my seat

My son Fred and I flew from Austin, TX, to Tokyo and arrived on Dec. 29. Following son Rob’s instructions, Fred bought 2 tickets on the Narita Express. However, when I went through the gate, a station agent stopped me. We had the express tickets that gave us a seat assignment, but not the basic tickets to the destination of Shinagawa . She helped Fred get the tickets we needed to exit at Shinagawa.

gratuitous picture of ourselves

gratuitous picture of ourselves

We got on the train well before the 6:19 departure but it started out at almost 15 minutes early. Wait a minute! They don’t start early here! At the next stop Fred asked a worker who confirmed we were not on the N’Ex so we jumped off immediately. Fortunately we were still at an airport train stop and we walked easily across to the right train. Found our assigned seats and started right on time … and in the opposite direction. Whew!

It’s a nice train with comfortable seats and room to stow luggage. Luggage shelves also feature combination locks attached to cords for security. I fooled around with one for a minute but couldn’t figure it out and just left my bags unsecured–it’s Japan, after all! Fred did lock his.

We paid attention to the map showing our current location, with just a few stops over an hour’s ride to Shinagawa. A snack/beverage vendor came through the aisles a couple of times. At Tokyo Station, some of the cars separated to continue on a different route. As the announcer suggested, I retrieved my luggage shortly before arrival so as not to create a traffic jam at the door.

Uh oh! Fred had been distracted when he entered his security code and forgot what it was! He quickly told me to go ahead and get off to go meet Rob. The train announcement had said if you forget the code, stay on board to the end of the line and have the agent unlock it (presumably if you can prove ownership).

So I got off the train and gradually figured out which direction to go. Rob came running down the stairs toward me and I said, “Fred’s still on the train! He can’t unlock his luggage!” Rob jumped on the train and off they went!

I made my way to a fountain where we were to meet. I took a few photos in the immediate area:

Eventually Rob’s wife Lin found me and we picked up her car (via car sharing–rented until 9:30 pm). The garage stows cars on movable racks. Once Lin paid the attendant and he retrieved the car, she backed it up onto a round platform that he rotated around toward the exit. Great use of small spaces.

Off we went to the apartment to drop off my luggage then go to the Yokohama Station where Rob and Fred and his luggage were going. Funny thing about that luggage–I had the baggage tags with me. It’s a good thing the agent finally accepted  his claim of ownership!

Even with the extra driving, the car was safely returned before 9:30. After some delicious carrot soup, we went to bed, tired but grateful to be together.

Kairos / Chronos


The close of my ministry with Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church is coming quickly. It boils down to a pastoral visit, a parable for the children, a sermon for the grownups, a farewell to and from all, and a walk through the building and through the labyrinth before turning in my keys.

I am a fortunate woman to have served this congregation for nearly nine years. That is a substantial chunk of time since my ordination nineteen years ago.

Chronos refers to time in ordinary terms, as in past, present, and future. It is measurable in nanoseconds and in geological eras. Events happen and recede into the past. We plan for the future and it’s here so quickly I often say, “The dates in your calendar are closer than they appear.”

In Greek mythology, Chronos is the personification of Time. Kairos has a different Greek meaning for time: the opportune moment. Typically something special happens at just that “right” moment in time.

In chronos terms, April 30 is my last day at Live Oak. I can look back over my time there and the history before then, and I can estimate with increasing certitude how the next few days will play out.

In terms of kairos, this is an opportune moment for nearly anything to transpire. Whenever there is a change in leadership the entire system shifts. Transitions begin with an ending, then go through a neutral zone of flux and possibility, and end with a beginning: something new and not entirely predictable. T.S. Eliot said it this way in The Four Quartets:

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.

I don’t think he meant that in absolute terms. “Where we start from” changes and if we land there again we land with different experiences, wisdom, and insight (or a new chance to learn the same lessons again).

My immediate plans are to travel. My husband Jon and I will take a road trip to see friends in North Carolina. We have both been working so hard that a break will be most welcome. Yesterday was our 15th (!) anniversary. Time on the road will give us a chance truly to catch up while leaving ordinary responsibilities behind. A second honeymoon! We’ll be back in time for me to preach in San Antonio–perhaps an antidote to the temptation to “run away from home.”

June will find me on a journey to Tokyo to visit my son Rob, his wife Lin, and Lin’s extended family. The only other time I visited Rob in Tokyo was in 2003, I believe, the first year he moved there. Who knew he would stay so long, teaching English, working as a messenger, and now computer programming? Who knew he would meet his Taiwanese wife because she wanted someone to climb Mt. Fuji with her? He has been back to the States a few times; I’m excited about my return trip.

Returning June 14 I’ll have just barely enough time to reset my biological clock, do some laundry, and repack to fly to Phoenix on the 17th. This trip will be for the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association. We’re calling this one a “Justice General Assembly” to draw attention to our witness on comprehensive immigration reform. Where better than Arizona to raise our voices?

Those are chronos events, to be sure. The kairos comes in the possibility–no, the certainty–that my life will spin into a direction unknown. It won’t be Kansas any more, Toto! My ministry will form and reform as the months and moments occur. I am open to new possibilities.

I have such high hopes for Live Oak as well. Spinning a congregation in a new direction will also be inevitable, but it will likely be a little longer in duration. Have any of you noticed the speed of church? This transition will be rapid in congregational terms but terribly slow for the “early adopters.” I am so excited for their future. Since change is inevitable, let’s all make the best of it!

Be blessed, companions, as I have been blessed.