Tuesday, April 7, 2009

텃 세 (Teo Se) Protecting Our Turf

As we approach the last days of Lent many thoughts come to mind. Certainly our Lord was not jealous of his turf. Nobody needed to worry about coming to him. These last days of Holy Week enable us reflect on the way he related with people. It was precisely because he did not protect his turf that he suffered much.

Some years ago while working in a small country parish I noticed a new parishioner and spent some time with her after Mass. She had decided to come to the parish to spend her last years, for she had heard of the good air and pleasant surroundings. She appeared to be a person with wealth and education. I tried to make it clear that she made a good choice for it was a nice part of our Korea. After a few weeks passed I noticed that she was no longer present at the daily Mass and asked some of the Christians. Well, it seemed that the 텃세 reputation that we had was experienced viscerally by the woman. She liked the area and everything was perfect except for the fact that she found it difficult to put roots down. I had heard the word 텃 세 over and over again but I now knew the results of this. They say this is rather a common experience of those relating to people living on an island. She did not receive the vibes from the Christians that made her feel welcomed. She was an outsider and she remained such. What she experienced was too much to overcome. She returned to where she had left.

Living in an area for a long period of time and especially when having a position of authority this phenomenon does not apply as it would for a simple member of a community. Teo se could be translated "advantage of being on one's own ground to act highhandedly." It is often seen in the animal world.

During these last days of Lent I wonder how much of this is a part of my life and those with who I am living. It is not easy for us to see ourselves as we are and this may be a blessing at times but not very Christ-like.

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