Somehow I just left home to hear God’s voice on the journey. So I did not have a definite and detailed plan for each country. Along the way, however, I realized everything was being fallen into place in terms of whereabouts in each country, and the theme(?) for this journey was set already by God for me before I left….
When I first arrived in Istanbul, I had no idea where to visit, what I want to do there, except for having a vague idea that, if possible, I want to go to places where I can find the traces of early Christians. I ended up visiting from Istanbul to Cappadocia, meeting(?) with St. Basil, and Gregory of Nazienzas, who first started a form of Christian community which later developed into monastery living and who greatly influenced Saint Benedictine to come up with Benedictine Rule for monastery life, and visited many stone cave churches and monasteries of 4th century Christians. As a matter of fact, I stayed at a place where once stone cave monastery turned into motel: my bedroom was used to be a chapel of the monastery it once was….. From Cappadocia to Pamukkale, Phrygia where apostle Philip was martyred, and to Laodicea, to Ephesus meeting with John, Paul and Mother Mary, and then to Smyrna meeting with Polycap who was the last disciple of apostle John, and who was martyred as the bishop of Smyrna, and then to Bergama (Pergamun). I met many martyrs and was able to see/feel the agony, struggles, trials, sweat and tears of Apostles, their experiences and sacrifices… God helped me to see the lives of apostles, their real struggles and trials, misunderstandings and hardships they had to endure…. What I had gone through was nothing compare to them…
In Greece, same thing happened… Well, I guess in Turkey, the theme for my journey was decided: tracing Apostle Paul’s footsteps…. But had no definite plans, but just prayed for God to lead me the way as I was realizing that this journey was not my own making…. I visited, along with other places, Mars Hill in Athens, where Paul gave address to Greek philosophers, and then to Corinth, Thessalonica, Philippi and Berea…… Paul was no longer a person in the bible, but a real person, –a person of emotions, who breathes, eats and sleeps– who needed security and certainty in life as much as I needed. His hardships, trials and imprisonments, stonings, and struggles have become real throughout the journey I was walking with him. I cried and suffered with him as I felt the pain, heartaches, fear and anxieties he was facing…. His humility in carrying out God’s mission and the passion for spreading the gospel with love in season or out of season, his Christlike attitude in serving….. I realized with my whole being what I have been lacking all this time in serving…..
Rome….. What can I say about this city, a city of martyrdom…… I met countless martyrs, walking day after day 3 to 5 hours daily, searching, visiting and meeting from child martyrs to 10,000 soldier martyrs, hearing cries and feeling their determinations for God…. walking on the road Apostle Paul and Peter might have walked, smelling, seeing their anxious laden sweat and tears… hearing, “Quovadis Domine!”, the utter cry of agony and desperation!! Everywhere I go, I could smell the blood of martyrs!!! Having to restrain the urge to kiss the martyrs’ blood shed holy ground, I realized that becoming a martyr means to give up oneself in total surrender- one’s will, mind, emotions, feelings, decisions, life choices- the whole being…. Martyrdom is the epitome of sanctification and holiness in Christian life…..
There are so many things I learned, realized and decided…. Many many reflections I wrote throughout this journey…. So many moving stories and testimonies during this trip… It is only a fraction I am telling you now…
Dating with Mozart, Bach and others going through concerts, being mesmerized by paintings of Climt at Belvedere Palace spending a whole day at the gallery…. What happy and dreamy days I have had in Vienna!!
Now I am in Prague where I am meeting with Jan Huss, a religious reformer, a prototype of Martin Luther who lived 100 years before Luther, a martyr burned at the stake for being a trumpet of God, proclaiming the truth that Jesus Christ, not Pope, is the head of the church and that lay people should be administered both elements of Eucharist, wine and bread, not just bread alone. In fact, I am writing this mail in front of Bethlehem chapel where he served as a preacher from 1402 to 1412 for ten years….. He missed this chapel so much while he was imprisoned that he even dreamt of this place…. And here I am standing and thinking about what God asks me to do…..
I thank God for your ministry being a comforter to those people around you, a comforter who knows life struggles and heartaches….
P.S… it took two years for me to venture out on my own to Taytay market: I am so bad at direction, but I have never been lost on this trip…. It is a surprise even to myself that I am traveling alone…. God has been with me on this trip….
살아냄의 치열함을 뚫고
아릿한 새순으로 고개를 들었는데
꽃이 아니라고 씨부릴까나?
(장미화분의 꽃을 기다리던 1월 9일, 2015 아침에…..)