Sunday, November 8, 2009

Why a Chrysanthemum Festival?

The small community here in Gyodong came back this afternoon from the Sunday Mass and Chrysanthemum Festival in the parish- the parish day of thanks. All who have been working in growing chrysanthemums brought their masterpieces to be judged by the pastor. It began on the first of November and finishes on Sunday the 8th.

The chrysanthemum flower has many different varieties and colors. It was a very popular flower in China that goes back thousands of years, entered Korea and from Korea to Japan, and the rest of the world. Besides the beauty of the flower, it has medicinal uses, culinary and even insecticidal uses.

The judging of the plants should be interesting. There will be plants with just one big bloom and others with a lot of blooms. I heard that they are judged by form, texture, color size and the condition of the flower.

One priest in a small country parish decided to become a chrysanthemum farmer to make his church known. Most thought that there was so little to do in a small country parish that he began farming. However, he says that after he was assigned to the parish many visitors coming to the parish asking for the whereabouts of the church were told they had never heard of it. The community is not that large and it was hard for the pastor to understand why the parish was not known. He decided that he would make the parish known by having a chrysanthemum festival and invite all those in the community.

Many in the community helped out in getting ready for the festival. He also went out to help others in exchange for their work. Eating by himself was not as pleasant as eating with others who came to help. He realized the worth of labor, the pleasure of working with others, more appreciative of God's designs , and bending his back towards the earth helped him to appreciate humility (humus earth). Also there have been those who have decided to enter the Catholic community.

Our Festival in the parish was a success. There was no need to make the parish known but rather a festival to celebrate the beauty of this earth. Besides the exhibition of the flowers, parishoners' works of calligraphy and art were also exhibited. We enjoyed beautiful music during the Mass and the seminarians after Mass entertained us with 'samulnori' ( four instrument pastime)-the Korean traditional percussion music using the four instruments: bass drum, an hourglass like drum, a small gong and a large gong. All done with a great deal of movement which gets those attending wanting to move their feet and hands to the rhythm. We all left with a deeper appreciation of God's beauty in many different forms.

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