The Sad Story of the Wind Phone

The lost are in the night, the cold, the outside. The lost are stumbling around, leading each other into a pit. They know not what they do. They dwell in a land of darkness with no hope.

For that reason, we can have compassion and pity.

This week I read an article that pulled at my heart strings. It was one of those articles that evoked pity, but also gratitude. I say gratitude because the Lord transferred me from the Kingdom of Darkness into His kingdom of Light. I have hope for an afterlife, the assurance of His more sure word on what is going to happen.

The phone of the wind. CC BY-SA 4.0

Wind Telephone
A disconnected rotary phone for “calling” lost loved ones offered a unique way of dealing with grief in disaster-stricken Japan.

When Itaru Sasaki lost his cousin in 2010, he decided to build a glass-paneled phone booth in his hilltop garden with a disconnected rotary phone inside for communicating with his lost relative, to help him deal with his grief.

Only a year later, Japan faced the horrors of a triple disaster: an earthquake followed by a tsunami, which caused a nuclear meltdown. Sasaki’s coastal hometown of Otsuchi was hit with 30-foot waves. Ten percent of the town died in the flood.

Sasaki opened his kaze no denwa or “wind phone” to the now huge number of people in the community mourning the loss of loved ones. Eventually, word spread and others experiencing grief made the pilgrimage from around the country. It is believed that 10,000 visitors journeyed to this hilltop outside Otsuchi within three years of the disaster.

The article goes on to assure the reader that the wind phone is meant to be used as a one-way communication. In other words, the people dialing the rotary dial and speaking their grief to the wind do not expect to hear anything in return at all. It’s just a symbol, a process, and an activity to help people feel more in control during their time of grief.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Not knowing about what happens after death is a number one issue for the unsaved. They might utter it, or they might never utter it, but we know that the gaping maw that is the great, unanswered question of eternity always lurks behind their thoughts. We know this because they are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3) and the wrath abides on them all the time. (John 3:36). As Paul said, If our hope in Christ is for this life alone, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:19).

We Christians have the assurance of a sinless, perfect afterlife with Jesus. We also have the promise of loving attention by a God who hears our prayers. (Psalm 34:15). We do not need a wind phone, we have the ear of the Almighty God! What praise there is in that! We are encouraged to take our supplications to Him, He hears us from His mighty temple. (Psalm 18:6).

Doesn’t it just tug your heart strings to see something like a wind phone atop a lonely hill in Japan? Doesn’t it pierce you, knowing the sadness and grief of the lost will not be salved? But doesn’t it also pierce you (as it does me) to have the ability to pray to the Holy One, and not? While the lost are installing phantom phones to whisper their grief into the wind, we are assured we have the ear of the High Priest at our disposal.

Pray more. Jesus is the God who sees and hears. He knows the voices of His sheep. Our griefs, supplications, petitions, cares, burdens, praises, and joys reach Him even though He is an unutterable distance away. But He is this close, too, inside us, knowing our sinews and heartbeats. He knows what we will ask before we ask it. He knows the need to be comforted even as we clasp our hands and open our mouth. He is great, attentive, wise, and concerned. Pray more. And tell the lost before they need a wind phone, that there is One who will listen, if they repent.


Further Reading

The Master’s Seminary: When an Unbeliever Dies: Offering Comfort without Distorting the Truth

Desiring God: How Do You Deal with the Death of an Unsaved Loved One?