Spiritual Stones and Dusty Footprints


The people who were taken to Manzanar retained great human dignity and a profound love of natural beauty. One expression of this was the placement of small clusters of stones near their barracks. This cluster is near where Building 5 in Block 28 was once located. Jeanne Wakatsuki’s father placed a cluster of stones near their “apartment” entrance in the new barracks they moved into in 1943.

“Whitney reminded Papa of Fujiyama, that is it gave him the same kind of spiritual sustenance. The tremendous beauty of those peaks was inspirational, as so many natural forms are to the Japanese (the rocks outside our doorway could be those mountains in miniature). They also represented those forces in nature, those powerful and inevitable forces that cannot be resisted, reminding a man that sometimes he must simply endure that which cannot be changed…


What had to be endured was the climate, the confinement, the steady crumbling away of family life.”

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Child at Manzanar, in Farewell to Manzanar

Walking around Manzanar, I was struck by how many people had walked on the same paths. Most had walked with great courage, born of an injustice so vast and so incomprehensible. Sorrow was a companion for many. Beauty and wisdom were a constant presence.


“Papa’s life ended at Manzanar, though he lived for twelve more years after getting out. Until this trip I had not been able to admit that my own life really began there.”

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Child at Manzanar, in Farewell to Manzanar

I am grateful to walk on this sacred ground, to hear the stories, and to know that I will be back.

I know that on my journey to the ten WRA prison camps, there will be insights and impressions that will emerge from the stories of the people who lived in the camps, and from the very ground on which they walked.

Thank you for joining me on the journey. As I leave Manzanar, my thoughts turn to the Camps ahead of me… This September, I’ll be visiting Minidoka and Heart Mountain.  Between now and then, I’ll make the first of many trips to Tule Lake.

In the meantime…

Grace and peace to you,


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