The Land of the Morning Calm

Until 108 BC, northern Korea and Manchuria were controlled by Gojoseon. In contemporaneous Chinese records, [the name of this region] was written as , which is pronounced in modern Korean as Joseon. An early attempt to translate these characters into English gave rise to the expression “The Land of the Morning Calm” for Korea, which parallels the expression “The Land of the Rising Sun” for Japan. While the wording is fanciful, the essence of the translation is valid; however, this interpretation is not often used in the Korean language, and is more familiar to Koreans as a back-translation from English.” – Wikipedia

 In the past week I’ve: watched my first Korean movie, become acquainted with another person who will be serving with MCC in South Korea, sent emails and letters to my friends and family formally sharing the details of my assignment, and submitted documents for a visa in the Republic of Korea. My year in Korea just became much more tangible, and with it I realize what that entails. I’ll need to sell, give away, or find long-term storage for all the things I own that don’t fit in a suitcase. Koreans speak Korean; I don’t know Korean! I’m leaving every single person I know for a year! The life and community I’m leaving behind will undoubtably change while I’m away, and I can’t predict what I will or will not find when I come home, or where I will even consider home in a year’s time. Half of my brain is exploding with excitement at the thought of all the new things I’ll get to learn and try, while the second half of my brain is trying the rationalize why the first half is crazy enough to leave the comfort of familiarity.

Even though I’m slightly anxious that the massive grandeur of the world will consume me in the limitless unknown, there is a deep curiosity in me that opens wide to meet this newness and embrace it with deep gulps of satisfaction. I feel like this is similar to the way I relate to God. There are moments when I feel as though the gravity of God’s mysterious otherness is stripping away the Breath that was given to me; then, there are moments when I feel like Jacob who is prevailing in this divine wrestling match, firmly clutching this mighty One, refusing release until I receive his blessing.

I am wrestling with the thoughts of this coming year. Sometimes I am in a position of strength and firmly grasped control, and other times I am pinned under the weight of it. However, I refuse to release this journey from my grip until it blesses me, until the break of day when I prevail against it. Hopefully, like Jacob, I will have a transformed identity and walk differently after this encounter.

Picture of Korean sunrise

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