“November 1985. I was in Japan covering Chiara Lubich’s visit there. As the cameraman, it was my job to document the entire journey that was so important because of the dialogues with personalities from the non-Christian religions.
The elderly Venerable Etai Yamada, a great figure in Tendai Buddhism and personal friend of Chiara, had agreed to an interview with my film crew. On the day of the interview we learned that he was not well and had been admitted to hospital. We thought the interview would have been called off, but it hadn’t been. He wanted to leave the hospital, and he met us dressed in full regalia and solemnly seated on his throne.
That day I had left the video footage to a friend so that he could take care of the audio. I used a shotgun mic, so that I could keep my distance and not interfere with the videotaping. I knelt at the feet of the venerable monk and held the microphone from there. We put all we had into listening to him with love. We were only going to need a few minutes of his talking for insertion in the documentary. But in spite of his poor health he continued to speak, always looking at me, seemingly unmindful of the fact that I didn’t understand a word of Japanese. He spoke non-stop for more than an hour, and during that time I kept on giving him my full attention.
A few years later Etai Yamada died. His followers asked if they could have copies of the interview he had granted to us. We got to work on it right away, because, since the Japanese video system is different than Europe’s, we had to first send this first shooting to Britain where it could be properly recoded. When it arrived in Japan we received a big thank you, because in the interview Etai Yamada had recounted his whole spiritual life, with details that no one knew. It turned out to be a very precious document for his followers!
I’ve never forgotten this event. It’s always there to remind me that for good communication, it’s not as important to talk, as it is to love.”
(Centro Santa Chiara Audiovisual Centre, Italy)
Source: Una Buona Notizia: gente che crede gente che muove (Rome: Ed. Città Nuova, 2012).