Drinking from a Fire Hose

This is Post #5 about my trip to Korea for the WCC. Please click on these links for Post #1, Post # 2, Post #3, or Post #4
 
Today, Monday, was our last day in Seoul for our pre-program with GETI. Tomorrow, we travel to Busan where GETI will continue and where the WCC will begin on Wednesday. 

The other day, the Dean of GETI used this phrase to describe what we were experiencing. I’m not sure if the phrase translated well for others, but I certainly think it is an apt metaphor. I hardly know where to begin as far as reflecting on what I have experienced so far. But I will not be too hard on myself for not taking in more or put to much pressure on myself to give neat summaries or astute synthesis yet. I will just appreciate the gifts that are being offered to me right now. My notebook is capturing as much as I can. Synthesis can wait. Sharing deeply about these gifts and their affect on me will come. But right now, these gifts, I need to receive them first. I need to drink deeply from the well, or the fire hose , whatever metaphor works, right? So in the spirit of drinking from the fire hose, I will share some of the “sips” I’ve been experiencing:

  • Talking about (rural) African perspectives on pastoral care with my seminar group member from South Africa
  • Sharing a love for Henri Nouwen with my new friend who is in seminary here in South Korea
  • Hearing about the priests and sisters and other Catholics and various Christians who are involved in nonviolent resistance in Jeju island here in Korea, protesting a U.S. Naval base that is destroying the local village there.
  • Listening to lectures on Korea history, realizing that the Cold War is still said to be going on here because of the divided nation of the Korean peninsula (Korea was divided along the 38th parallel at the end of WWII by Russia and the U.S., just days after Korea was freed from Japanese occupation)
  • Talking with the only other Catholic woman here, who is from Australia, about what her context is like as the only younger female studying theology at her grad school.
  • Totally having a fangirl moment when the official Catholic delegation to the WCC showed up this morning, that is, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU).  CTU people- Steve Bevans was all cool, like, “Yeah, I know most of these people,” and I was like, “I read about this council and here they are in person! Plus, there aren’t many other Catholics around here usually.” There were several women too. Very happy to see.
  • Being blown away and deeply challenged by Professor Namsoom Kang (Brite Divinity School at TCU). She reminded us here that for those of us here at GETI who speak English as our first language, that means that we inherently are the power-holders and others are marginalized. The first step is to be aware.  That’s all we’ve got so far.
  • Going on a spontaneous walk with my new friends from lunch from Korea, Germany, and Sweden.
  • Discussing my American (Catholic) context with my German friend who practically knows more about American politics than I do, I discovered this as we discussed evangelicals, polarization in the Church, and the religious backgrounds of American political leaders.
  • Asking “who is defining culture? What interest does it serve?”
  • Bonding with my Slovakian group member who considers himself Czechoslovakian because he was born before the split and I consider myself 1/4 Czechoslovakian because my grandma was from the undivided nation as well.
  • Visiting a Presbyterian Church here in Seoul. With a German pastor preaching the sermon (who was part of a delegation on their way to the WCC) haha
  • Having only 30 minutes to shop/explore at the market for souvenirs and such.
  • Discussing with my friend from the UK/USA (Seattle) about her Jesuit school that is uber ecumenical, and her friends’ experiences of being Catholic women in ministry.

These are just a taste for you, a few sips. Multiply this by 10. At least.  I’m so thankful for this fire hose of experience and information. I know it will just continue to multiply as we head to Busan tomorrow for the actual start of the WCC on Wednesday!

More later, friends. But for now, pictures!

GETI Catholic contigent: Antonia from Australia; Victor, SJ, from Boston; Steve Bevans, CTU professor; Edmund Chia, former CTU prof now in Australia; and me!
GETI Catholic contingent: Antonia from Australia; Victor, SJ, from Boston; Steve Bevans, CTU professor; Edmund Chia, former CTU prof now in Australia; and me!
10-27-13 David Field 2
Eating a traditional Korean meal on Sunday
10-27-13 Noria (37)
Me, Gift (South Africa), Saleem (Jordan) at some palace in the middle of Seoul
10-27-13 Noria (38)
Posing for the camera… because it’s what I do 🙂
Professor Steve Bevans talking with his friend, the General Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Professor Steve Bevans talking with his friend, the General Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
My lunch table today!
My lunch table today! Sweden, Korea, the US, and Germany, all represented!

Thanks for journeying with me, friends!

Much love on the road to Busan,
Melissa

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Voluntary Displacement

For our orientation here, we had to read one of three books. Since I already owned one of the options, Compassion, by Henri Nouwen (thanks to a recommendation by Ali Boyd!), I chose that one. And I LOVED IT. I highly recommend it. But anybody who knows me probably is letting that go in one ear and out the other because I LOVE books a lot and recommend too many too often lol.  However, It’s a book that put words to the desires of my heart.

The book is so full of wisdom, I couldn’t read it too fast and still process the awesomeness. One chapter is called, “Voluntary Displacement” and it follows the chapter on “Community”

I’m here. In Chicago. A city to which I’d never been. But I now live here. For almost one year.

I’m voluntarily displaced. In response to a call of sorts.

In the words of Henri Nouwen,

The paradox of the Christian community is that people are gathered together in voluntary displacement.

Since a big focus of this year with the Amate House is community, I guess the fact that we’re all voluntarily displaced is a good thing 😉

Nouwen talks about how in our voluntary displacement we cast off the illusion of “having it all together” and thus experience our true (and shared) condition.  In our common displacement, following our displaced Lord,

 we are called out of our familiar places to unknown territories, out of our ordinary and proper places to the places where people hurt and where we can experience with them our common human brokenness and our common need for healing.

We’re beginning to experience what this means and will continue to do so over the course of the year. How beautiful. Brokenness transformed.

And of course… Nouwen qualifies his statements a lot (like we all know I do) so I like him even more.   Voluntary displacement is not actually voluntary, but in response to a call. And it often is not physical displacement, but can be inner displacement. And of course, lots of people are involuntarily displaced all the time, so this is not to romanticize displacement but to call us to solidarity with the millions who live disrupted lives.

All this to say… I’m embracing my voluntary displacement and my call to be here in Chicago.

I’m loving getting to know my housemates.

I jumped up and down the first time I saw the Chicago skyline and the Lake Michigan horizon. Well… as much as you can jump while buckled in a car 🙂

Lake Michigan! (from the car)

I’m enjoying the reflections and other exercises that are part of our orientation. The orientation that reminds me of RA training… the Catholic version! Good thing Housing and CCM were my main Furman things 🙂

More soon. On Nouwen. On Chicago. On Amate. On Community.

And one more thing… my address. I love mail. You love mail. Give me yours if you want some mail!

3108 W. 24th Street Chicago, IL 60623