40 Years in America
Familial Love at Kodiak
My experience with Father and Mother in Kodiak, August 1999 mostly revolves around heart. To be up there with them in this setting -- all the time, they are just giving their time and hearts to God and to us. We are out fishing for salmon in a freshwater stream and a brother calls down, "Come up! come up!" So a couple of sisters and myself pull in our lines and climb up the rocky hillside to the campfire.
The wind is blowing off the saltwater of the ocean backdrop and on a log seated cozily next to each other are Mother and Father with McDonaldís hamburgers in their mouths. It was such a down-home sight. Apparently they didnít think we would catch enough fish to eat our first day out, so they brought this huge supply of burgers and apple pies for the 50+ of us to eat, and eat we did. Folks gave testimony about fishing, and sang songs and it was all in Korean and it all felt very cozy and casual.
A few of us wandered off from time to time to fish a bit more -- and that was okay -- it was not like it was some "desertion" of something formal. It felt like family sitting around the campfire, fishing and entertaining. While I went back out (to the ocean this time) to fish a bit more from a scraggily cliff edge of black rock, I looked out into the distance. The water was blue-gray like the sky above and in the background the volcanic mountain peaks of the Aleutian Islands framed the horizon. In the foreground salmon leaped from the waters like so many silvery curlicues, their arching bodies forming graceful aerial pirouettes that were completed back under the waterís surface. Over the rocky shore and across the sea, the melodious baritone of a brother singing chases the sea gulls into the evening air.
Each morning we had Hoon Dok Hae. The first day, Philip Schanker read surreptitiously in English for the western members (Rev. Yang and Rev. Kim took turns reading in Korean at the podium while Father and all listened). The next three days, I read the English selections corresponding as closely as could be discerned to the Korean text. Sometimes Father would interrupt the reading to clarify some point. In the afternoons we went fishing.
The first two times when Parents met us at the shore they brought McDonaldís. But the third day, they didnít. I took it to mean that by then we should have been able to catch enough fish to feed ourselves and that we wouldnít need the burgers. It was true. Although each day there were fish to roast over the campfire, the third day there was a tremendous catch. Salmon was roasting, roe and sashimi cut and sliced. The brothers jumped right in to cook it all up. I caught one salmon, but I must confess that I felt badly for it, to take its life. It was so beautiful and gleaming as it came out of the water -- smallish compared to some -- not more than two pounds or so, Iíd say, but all muscle and silvery shine. Like a crescent moon springing to life in a slippery suit. I would have preferred to put it in a tank and ask it the secrets of the universe. I felt sorry for it as its brilliant sheen became covered with gravel and dirt on the ground -- out of its proper element, writhing and arching, its majestic strength was uncontainable on dry land. Finally it expired its last breath. I felt sorry to have taken such a noble soul. And yet, I ate heartily from all that our brothers cooked up.
Somehow later that day, Father addressed everything that I had been praying about and so specifically that it was no mere coincidence. I really felt that Father does indeed know as God knows, from the inside our hearts. It was also rather awesome to think of the power of prayer and the implication of that, how our words in prayer resonate.
One evening, the holy day of August 17th, we had entertainment. From holy songs to skits by second-generation members about getting lost at sea while fishing -- a true story -- to the "over 50" brothers doing an energetic display of acrobatics to Brother Levy Daugherty encouraging all the USAíers to come up and sing before True Parents with Philip Schanker on guitar and Tyler Hendricks cueing the verses to the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Brother Levy is so embracing he just brings us all right in -- no snobbiness about position, blessing, race (where white ainít right) -- feels so down-home family-like.
I feel this is part of the vision of Tribal Messiahship and the validating of each and every person within the movement as a leader and as a real family. Just to "be" together. I was asked by Rev. Hong to take photos so I did. But I felt like one of the paparazzi sometimes during moments of intimacy. Do you live life or record it? I was trying to get a photo of Parents and my flash went off. Mother jerked back like she had been struck; tears still come to my eyes over that. I was told to take photos, so I did, but I felt like Mother especially would just like to "be" and not feel like every event is for media coverage, propaganda and external show. Yes, we need the internal heart and to bear witness to that, but just the externals are not enough. When I think of the life-changing experiences Iíve had with God, it has been due to a powerful impact of heart. Itís true that this is history in the making... but it is still a quandary for me. Again, weeks later at East Garden, Father told us to stop taking notes and just look at him. We need to drink him up, take in his heart and spirit. At one point he was dancing -- arms and feet shaping the air with chi energy and joy.
Hoon Sook Nim gave a beautiful testimony of the success of her recent ballet tour -- of her company being recognized for its precision and artistry of performance such that it is compared to the Bolshoi and considered to have a command of technique that is the closest people have seen to the Russian ballet of the 19th century. In Hungary there were hundreds who had to be turned away as standing-room-only had been sold out. There was praise in Italy and Spain as well. Hoon Sook Nim said that sometimes backstage she was so warmly greeted she thought it was all church members pouring out their love.
But it was actually just regular folks from the audience expressing their appreciation. One evening in Kodiak she showed luxuriously extensive segments of her troupeís performances and an interview on Korean television -- it was on video and was played on a large television. As it was quite late by then, it was with gratitude that I listened to her speak in English about what was going on. It was a real treat as well as enlightening as she spoke in depth about the artistic and choreographic significance of various dances in light of dance history and traditions and practices and how they have evolved over the years. Father and Mother were seated in the back, and we were sitting in front on the floor. Father got up and walked down front right next to Vanessa Nishikawa and sat down. Father enjoyed the ballet very much, I think.
He punched Vanessa in the arm several times, smiling and asking what she thought. Just another evening around the TV set with the Messiah!
Long days and short nights -- we started early and finished late. In between was prayer, great Korean/Japanese food and clear, starry skies. Although itís the rainy season in Alaska, and Kodiak gets more still, itís as though the clouds took pause to smile upon True Parents being there and we had sunshine the whole time until departure. Gathered were Korean leaders and National Messiahs from all over the world and leaders from across the U.S. But there in Kodiak, it was just folks, brethren in True Parents. People of deep heart dedicated to doing Godís will, striving to manage all the home front as well as the regional and national challenges. People of all races and nationalities working all over the globe.
Fatherís prayer the morning of the holy day was so compassionate and tender, tears poured uncontrollably from my eyes the whole time. Although I did not understand his Korean, there was a real presence of the Holy Spirit and the sense that Father was praying to comfort Heavenly Fatherís heart with the love one would give a grieving infant. I heard sniffles going off all around the room, but I didnít look up. I donít think I could have seen through my tears if I had. But the sense that Father truly seeks always to comfort God first no matter what his own situation remains a poignant memory. This is just the tip of the iceberg -- how can you describe cosmic grace with mere words? But I hope this can help you feel that we are truly on a life journey of true love and the hope that that love may be realized one day.
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