Fall Comes to Osan

As here, autumn is coming to the mountains that once were home to the mighty Cherokee.

I read in a blog that I follow that a Cherokee Chief observing the changes and bounty of harvest in the fall, described the season as a season of "hope and memory". Cool mornings and evenings have descended and I am trying to focus on my Cherokee guide to view the time as a season of hope rather than hear the words of Gandalf the Gray, "we face the long dark of Moria". Cold is coming to Korea. I keep remembering those freezing episodes of MASH.

There has been some joy this week. A gentleman I've gotten to know these past few months has completed adult instruction in the Lutheran faith and has requested confirmation which will take place this next Sunday.

Chusok has come to a close. It started off well enough but has ended sadly due to someone close to us experiencing a tragedy back in the states. It reminds me of something I proclaim often in my sermons, that most of the bad things that happen to human beings we either do to ourselves, or as in this case, do to one another. So much tragedy and pain is brought to our lives by the evil that resides in the hearts of fellow human beings. So these last few days have been days of reflection and sadness for me for in the face of some tragedies we find we are so powerless.

As a chaplain I have many opportunities to bring change and even prevent great harm as circumstances or people invite me into their lives. But not always is it possible. Usually one can help a person start to confront the realities they face and begin the road to healing, sometimes one can even play a large role in facilitating that healing, but sometimes one realizes that all one can do is be present and share the pain. Not that it makes the pain less for the person who is hurting, but perhaps it helps to not hurt alone. But moments like these remind oneself as a chaplain that we are only human and not God and no amount of wanting to make it better can make it better.

In our powerlessness one is reminded of how fragile life is. How fragile the good is. How fragile so many things are and we are moved to thankfulness for our many blessings for life should not be taken for granted. We could be moved to fear or despair but...

Then we remember how strong life is. How strong the good can be. How strong so many things like love and family, devotion and duty, truth and promise are. And once again we are moved to thankfulness.

Which fits with Chusok, that while it is not the Korean version of our American thanksgiving, it is certainly a time for these people of hope and memory - celebration of their family and what they have as well as remembering and acknowledging the role of those who have gone before us continue to play in our lives.

May we all look through the grief of our various losses as we face and deal with the mortality of our lives and see hope and remember -- remember to give thanks for those we have shared our lives with -- remember to give thanks for who they have helped us to be -- and push forward -- even if future days around the corner are dark -- for the warm light days of Spring are promised. Let us never forget the enduring strength of promise.

Let us never forget the eternal voice of God that rings through human history loud and clearly proclaiming "death and evil do not get the last word." Out of the deepest evil of the human heart the Christ was murdered by human hands and the hands that were nailed to the tree forgave -- and the body that died defeated death and rose -- and the heart that was stilled by human evil -- beat again with love and promised not only forgiveness but resurrection. Death does not get the final word.

God's peace to you who are remembering and hurting.