The following is a Lenten Reflection that I wrote for a reflection series done by Trinity Commons Episcopal Student Center, and I thought I would share it here too. It is written about Psalms 91 and 92.
Sometimes life is hard. Ok, life is hard much of the time. You all know this, you don't need me to tell you this. For the past 6 months or so, I have been acutely aware of this fact, living in South Korea. Sometimes you get tired. Sometimes the food is weird. Sometimes you have no idea what is going on around you. Go back and replace "sometimes" with "often" or "usually" and you have a pretty good idea of what it's like to live not only here, but I feel like most places.
As I read these two Psalms for the first time, I did not see how they intersected. Besides being numbered together, they seemed like two facets of a highly multi-faceted machine; not necessarily unrelated but not necessarily related either. Reading them again, I begin to see that they can be more accurately described as two halves of a whole. Psalm 91 is a song of protection. Psalm 92 is a song of praise, of joy. What better reason is there to sing for joy than the protection of God?
However, I think sometimes this protection can be misinterpreted in our society. I often feel that we are being told that if you have a fear or a pain, simply praying about it will make it go away. While I do think prayer is important (of course), I think that this sort of "magic" prayer can be harmful. Sometimes in our lives, there will be suffering. I see it everyday, in the faces of the men, women, and children that I work with and in the dark, deep scars that war and foreign colonization and occupation have left on the Korean peninsula. If you pray through the suffering, you can gain strength. This is particularly important to remember during this season of lent, a season of repentance and suffering but also the joy of coming out of the darkness. If we praise God not only when we are joyful but also when we are suffering, I think that we can come to have a fuller and more meaningful relationship with God. Amen.
Well, what else has been happening? Much. In January we visited Jeju Island, a smallish island located off the southern coast of the peninsula. There we learned about many issues concerning the island's past, present, and future, including the 4-3 Incident, in which 30,000 islanders were killed or disappeared under the pretext of quelling a communist rebellion, and the current issue of Gangjeong Village, the protested site of a new South Korean naval base. If you would like any additional info on these issues, please let me know and I can send you more information personally. We also got to experience the beautiful (snowy!) scenery of the island, such as a large lava tube and the Jeju Stone Park, which featured some volcanic rock formations found on the island.
In March we returned to Seoul for a longer visit and got to experience big city life and met some new companions. We visited Durebang, or My Sisters' Place, a center to help women from abroad who work in clubs and bars near military bases who are often forced into prostitution. We also visited the Wednesday protest, or the protest to get an official apology from the Japanese government for the forced sexual slavery of not just Korean women but many other nationalities as well, during the period of Japanese imperialism. It is the longest protest on record, occurring every Wednesday for longer than 10 years. In Seoul, we also received an entire day of free time, which I spent exploring the shops in Myeong-dong, a popular shopping district, and relaxing with Tisha in a jjimjilbang, or Korean-style sauna.
Well, that's it for now! Thanks for reading.