I finally woke up to the morning after. The morning that I most feared, even before my sister’s arrival from Seoul. My first thought after the phone call from my sister that she booked a flight to visit us was a deep fear. It sparked in my heart even before the joy of reuniting with my sister welled up. I should have been joyful with excitement. There was that of course, but my initial response was fear. Fear of the sadness I would have to face after her departure, fear of the separation that will follow after the reunion.
Her short visit with us lasted only ten days. She left, and then- we were all left to wonder when we will get to meet again. At least not for another two or three years. I calculated how old my sister would be next I see her. I calculated the number of times we have met in the last decade.
And so, the morning after my sister’s departure, I decided to clean out my refrigerator in order to clean out my native thoughts. My double door refrigerator is brand new. Everything in this house is brand new. I have used my Samsung refrigerator for less than three months so there was not much to clean. All the surfaces were still in its initial condition except a few red marks that splashed from my Kimchi container. All of a sudden, I am transported back to the monastery talking with Sister Barbara during one of my visits to the convent. She is telling me about the time a nun from Korea introduced them to Kimchi. The sisters made Kimchi together and everyone loved it, she says. And in the back of my mind, I am thinking that this lucky monastery will has constant supply of fresh Kimchi thanks to my presence. I could easily picture myself making Kimchi with the nuns there. It was a life that I dreamed up for myself. I do not know if it was ever a God’s dream for me, but it was a dream that sustained me.
On one of my stays at the monastery, two parents in their mid 50’s from Spain were visiting. They were enjoying their rare visit with their young daughter who had just recently joined the order. It was so easy for me to imagine my parents doing the same in a few years. It was relief to know that the nuns at the Trappist order could have family visitations. I feared separation. I feared the big, overwhelming emotions separation cause in people involved.
Now eight years have passed since I was rejected from the monastery. I occasionally reminisce those memories of the monastic life that I dreamed and partly lived and it makes my heart so warm. The world is my monastery and this house, my convent. The church ladies from my local parish is my fellow nuns and each morning, I arise before dawn praising and worshiping God through my prayers. My eyes soak in the green field outside my windows and over the dense woods, sun is slowly rising. I cannot suppress the joy that rises despite the heavy weight of sorrows.
After many trials and hardships, our souls shall reunite again.
After many visitations and repeated separations, our meetings will never end.
All that’s left for us to do is to keep a tight hold on the Hand that will never, ever separate from us from here and onward.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.