Tuesday, September 15, 2015
When the Whole World is a Foreign Land
The recent squabble between the North and South Korea has disappeared from the news, and we are waiting for the full moon that will usher in the Harvest Moon Festival (Chuseok) a cherished holiday in which Koreans give thanks for their crops, pay homage to their ancestors, and celebrate family ties. The three day holiday, for family members who have moved away, means for many a visit to the homestead.
A columnist in the Peace Weekly wants us to reflect on the holiday, and our life as travelers. In a recent survey made by one of the papers, they reported that of 1000 citizens over 19 years old: 36.9% had plans to visit with family, 18.1 % would be working, 7.2% would be traveling, 37.8 had no plans or had other choices. More would not be going to the homestead than would, and many of these would not be going for reasons out of their control.
Separated families in the South because of the war or refugees from the North will be grieving for the conditions that prevent contact with family. Also we have the 'losers' in society, those without a job who find going back to the homestead difficult. On this holiday they feel very small and seek to hide.
Hugh of Saint Victor (c. 1096-1141) a monk who left us some memorable words on one's home town."The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land." Those who consider every place they find themselves as home is a victor according to the monk.
These words can be applied to a person or society. Love for family and friends is very natural, those who extend that love to the unknown are strong and admirable, making for a mature, firm society. We go beyond the relational family and friend connection with solidarity with all, and overcome the win/lose of the market thinking with the making of friends: "whenever you did this to one of the least you did it to me." The words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40.
If we think deeply we realize that no one returns to his hometown. Everything is always changing. What we thought was our homestead is no longer what it was but something foreign, the whole world becomes a foreign land it is then we become a mature world citizen. We are on pilgrimage and when we make others feel comfortable we are true pilgrims.
Chuseok whether we go to our homesteads or not, when I look up at the full moon I realize that we are all pilgrim wanderers, and when we go out to those without a home we are going back to our place of birth. Isn't this a good way to spend our Chuseok?