A Contribution to My Korean Experience

By Michael Picklesimer, Senior Pastor at Sidney United Christian Church,  Sidney, Illinois


Hooray! Jetlag is finally behind me and I’m gravitating back to normal. What is normal anyway but a sequence of habitual activities in a predictable day? Up by six, showered by seven, in the office by eight.

Enough said! As a minister I could describe my daily activities but then I take the risk of boring you. Rather I’ll stress the idea that no matter what our calling or profession, each one of us is susceptible to drifting into a life of routine and predictability. And usually accompanying these two things is a predisposed perspective of how we view the world. Most people routinely go about their predictable days believing the way they live is very much the same way everyone else does. And when you ask them what their worldview is, few have a clue. Comparing and understanding worldviews, in fact, was a discussion topic at our temple stay.

I was delighted when Mrs. Hyaekyung Jo asked me to facilitate a brief discussion with the boys regarding our first day at Baek Yang SaTemple. I was myself in a state of reflection due to our previous home-stay visit and attending Onnuri Church in Seoul. I had been quite honored to speak on behalf of our group before so many people. I had only been a part of the group for a few hours, and somehow I already knew I would come to enjoy each and every one of them. If I’d known I was going to be asked to say a few words before so many people, would I have gone? The answer is undoubtedly yes, but I’m so glad I didn’t know ahead of time.

Honoring those who rose up against Chun Doo-hwan’s military dictatorship at Gwangju 518 Memorial Park is still fresh in my mind. I was deeply touched to offer my condolences, alongside Mrs. Jo, Ellen, Akeda, and Clinton. And I know as we individually offered incense, all of you behind us shared in this very special moment.

In any regard, I found my discussion with the boys to be exceptional. They not only gave me their attention, they responded with both heart and mind. I could tell within the first two minutes they had talked about this before…possibly at the camp? Our discussion began with the question, what is a worldview and why is it important to understand others? Second, we talked about what it means to be spiritual and then shared what a person can do individually to calm his or her inner self. Some expressed how difficult it is nowadays to find a quiet moment and reflect or meditate. We all agreed that we need to do more of it.

Thank you for your input and for making me feel as though I contributed, if only in a small way, to your Korean experience. On the flip side, you certainly added to mine. Thanks to everyone, from the youngest to oldest and especially to Mrs. Jo for encouraging my participation.

Who knows, maybe we’ll cross paths again—that is if we don’t get stuck in our everyday, predictable routines.