Friday, January 21, 2011
From the Cathedral to Seoul Station
He remembers seeing the place outside of the Cathedral grounds where he was part of a street singing group some 23 years before. He recalls playing the guitar in the freezing cold; everyone's face feeling the bitter cold. Those that have followed the custom are no longer doing it periodically. In his day, it was every 3 or four times a week; they were happy days.
A little further on he remembers seeing a middle-aged woman within a vinyl-like tent, with 3 large microphones singing gospel songs sure to be heard. In large red letters a sign proclaimed: "With Jesus heaven, unbelief hell." On that day, seeing the sign, he found it bizarre, and wondered how many would find what they saw and heard helpful in believing in Jesus?
Next, he came to the Exchange Bank, in front of which were a small group of picketers with signs: "Let us run the Exchange Bank ourselves." The manager of the branch office, said the night before, while drinking together with the columnist, that he felt for the employees who feared a merger was eminent. If the writer didn't have a scheduled meeting to go to, he said, he would have joined the picketers.
A little later he sees street vendors with their stalls on wheels being chased away from their sidewalk places of business. The writer can't help but sympathize with these vendors who are trying to make a living outdoors in the cold weather. The effort of getting their carts to the place to hawk their wares is a problem in itself, and then being chased away by those that have the job to regulate the street population is a sad situation.
Entering Seoul Station after the two hour walk, he sees that most of those in the waiting room are street people--people who have not washed, with clothes that have been worn too long, with dirty faces and the smell of alcohol; they were smells he was not accustomed to, and it was difficult to accept. Those who had been drinking were adding to the commotion by exchanging insults. He remembers the words of Jesus to the apostles when he was asked about the man born blind. This is to make known the glory of God. But he also remembers the words that God made us in his image.
The writer says he faces the same dilemma that Jesus' disciples faced when they asked about the man born blind. What is he to make of this scene? He had difficulty thinking of embracing anyone in that waiting room.
Life is full of a great deal of sadness and pain; a natural response is not to want to see it. Even if we do not have ready answers, it's good for us to face the pain and sadness and reflect on their inevitable presence in life. To take a walk into it, as our writer has done, may make it easier to remember the part all of us play in the world we live in. It is an on-going challenge for all of us. The writer ends his article telling us it is like a 'mobius strip'.