Unification News for September 2001

The Registration Blessing: a Testimony

Lloyd Howell
September, 2001

On August 5th 2001 I flew to Korea to join my wife at Cheong Pyeong Training Center. By then Donna was to have finished her 21-day blessed wives workshop after which we were to participate in the 14th Registration Blessing Ceremony, a 3-day event marking our family’s receiving citizenship in God’s nation.

Hearts grow fond in absence and I truly longed to see my wife and spend 3 special days together. Having completed a 14-hour plane flight and a bus ride of 3 hours I arrived somewhat jet-lagged and anxious to meet up with Donna. For some reason I expected to find her relatively quickly. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

The Cheong Pyeong I saw was a radically transformed one from the place I had spent 40 days at in the summer of 1996. The site then consisted of a small jumble of makeshift buildings, assorted tents, paved and unpaved areas, outdoor eating, various prayer sites, mostly at several trees, and a dirt path up to a prayer ground situated on a hill.

Although a few of the old meeting/sleeping halls remained the site was now filled with majestic new structures. Most dominant was a massive 3-story stone temple with two basement levels. The main 2-story sanctuary was capable of accommodating approximately 5,000 congregants. Also on the site was a massive stone monument around which were scattered benches, a store and a 2-story building, which was essentially one large prayer room.

Without going into great detail suffice it to say other elements and features were also present as well as an under-construction multi-story hospital situated on a hill overlooking the above-mentioned structures. The hospital, envisioned as a total healing facility including western and eastern medical arts as well as spiritual healing, was scheduled for completion late in 2002.

I wandered around in awe of the transformation that had taken place. But I didn’t bump in to Donna. I imagined she would check at the ‘Tree of Love’ as a logical place to search for me. I returned to it several times—but she wasn’t there. I looked at the main hall where an ‘ansoo’ session was under way but the sheer number of people, being somewhere in the thousands and totally caught up in that rigorous clapping singing cleansing ritual, made it just too daunting for this haggard traveler to enter, thus I continued to wander through the dense humid summer air.

Prior to my departure Donna telephoned and informed me that an exceptionally large group of wives had come, approximately 5,000. She told me there may literally be no place to sleep especially when the 5,000 husbands would arrive. Not wanting to lose any luggage in some imagined nameless heap of disorganization I brought only a backpack that I expected to keep by my side. In it I had my holy robe, some t-shirts, a pair of pants, some dried mangoes to offset the constipating effect of what I knew would be a primarily rice diet, a few toiletries, a water bottle, underwear and socks, my pocket New Testament, a poncho, flashlight and a few pills of various sorts to deal with expected complications, a sweatshirt and a small inflatable pillow.


However, it soon became clear that one thing hadn’t changed! Despite the magnificent buildings and their heavenly grandeur, Cheong Pyeong was still, in essence, a refugee camp—people with bundles of belongings were everywhere: outside the ansoo room were mothers and children resting on scattered blankets, playing, eating, running and crying, mostly Korean and Japanese. They had even overflowed the building; their sleeping bags filling the verandahs and balconies of the Temple! The dining hall below had become a sleeping mecca with blankets stretched out on chairs, on dining room tables and the floor below. It was incomprehensible disorganization and chaos. Apparently Cheong Pyeong’s pilgrims were too many to accommodate in some rational and orderly fashion yet all seemed to somehow blend. Strife was nowhere to be found.

The unique genius of CP is that it is designed to push one to his or her limitation(s) as quickly as possible. MacDonald’s may have invented ‘fast food’ but Rev. Moon was introducing ‘fast spirituality’. Of course, no true spirituality is an overnight occurrence but a growth process. However at C P one has to sink of swim—that is to say get spiritual or get negative, there is no middle ground. That is to say the sheer and straight path is there and those who hesitate or try to avoid it easily slide down to the bottom of hell.

I too was having my share of difficulties getting into the whole scene. One commonly thinks of a spiritual retreat as just that—a getaway, a repose from the hecticness of day-to-day life. One may conventionally think that God is to be found in quiet solitude but Cheong Pyeong takes the opposite approach. There is no time to listen to chirping birds, to meditate on lotus blossoms. Jump in and learn to swim. CP invokes that sort of desperation in all who arrive and undertake the course be it a few days or even 40. One is quickly over his head in problems, inconveniences and frustrations. I must have forgotten something basic and important for my first day was one of feeling obstructed - a feeling that not much was going right. The unappetizing rice, strange vegetables and water with seaweed in it was served onto steel trays reminiscent of a prison environment. Moreover not being able to participate with my wife, sleep deprivation, endless thirst, and sweat drenched clothes combined to assault my optimism. Then, during my 2nd night, I awoke at 3 in the morning due to the incessant coughing of the person lying just inches from my ear. I had slept only a few hours. Yet I could not relax due to being stepped over and bumped by passersby. I resolved to get up. It was raining so I sought out the chapel but it was full of sleeping sisters. I returned to my bedroll.

Feeling tired and frustrated I was approaching the end of my rope so I knelt down to pray whereupon I was struck with the realization that "What About Father’s Course!" Tears of repentance came. How easy it is to forget: I, we, all of us were here to connect to Father’s life and his victory. Every element of the Cheong Pyeong experience contains within it some aspect of Father’s life. When one sees things from that angle the ordeals of C P. become something to appreciate and cherish.

Through my prayer I gained the vantage point, the spiritual high ground. I knew I now had satan in my hand. The Cheong Pyeong diet, although meager and somewhat repulsive to the western palate, was still so much better than Father’s prison diet of a handful of rice and salty broth. If I was to complain I was a fool, a disciple in want or so I judged myself. And the ansoo session—although it was a beating it was one we gave ourselves! It was not the internal bruising and bleeding that Father underwent while tortured. And any separation from my wife was but a farce compared to the years, which Father endured and if I had a poor place to sleep then what about Father’s when forced next to the toilet bucket in Hung Nam. My prayer ended and I was refreshed. I now had a handle on the day, a foundation upon which to interpret and digest any events that might occur. Internally, on some level, Father’s victory was mine. I was grateful. That was the secret: to be deprived of all and accept it gratefully, to be given all and to receive it in humility. My life should be to follow Father’s course. If this place felt like a refugee camp then it was because Father was a refugee. Even God Himself was and is a refugee in this world.

After that realization all went relatively well for the rest of my C P visit. That is not to say that I didn’t get sick or tired et cetera but I had a healthy perspective with which to relate to my hardships.

The Blessing Ceremony

One other interesting moment was when the Blessing Ceremony was held. Donna and I changed to our holy robes and entered a totally packed room via a side door as the call for couples to volunteer for distributing the Holy Wine was made. We responded and got on that line. But as I imagined the proceedings would turn into an ordeal. Those who gave speeches could not be brief and to the point. Moreover they seemed twice as long as they were in Korean. The room was stifling to the point of more than a few being ready to faint. Moreover the children that were there had great difficulty to wait patiently in the heat; their tortured moans were everywhere. Meanwhile ever since entering the room I had been growing increasingly nauseous probably due to lack of oxygen, I thought. Little did I didn’t realize that I was a short spell away from waves of diarrhea.

As I grew increasingly weak I prayed to be able to suspend all thoughts and told myself that eventually things would be over. I was getting worse by the minute but then, when the time came to distribute the Holy Wine, an amazing thing happened. As I received my tray some sort of energy lifted me. I became revitalized and engrossed in the distribution of the communion cups. Arms reached out, couples eager to receive the forgiveness propelled me on. I forgot myself. After working the indoor crowd for a while I got inspiration to head outside behind the building where I knew the overflow couples must be anxiously waiting and wondering if anyone would get to them. Without a thought I left the building [in my socks] and found anxious and grateful couples eager to partake the wine.

After finishing, I returned my tray and felt the wind quickly leaving my sails. Whereas a moment before I had been floating on air I was now heading south fast. In fact, I had to step outside the building despite my wife wondering why I was stubbornly refusing to stay inside.

The ceremony ended and I changed from my robes and immediately for the next few hours I had the ‘runs’ back and forth exhausted and drained by waves of diarrhea.

Later when I meditated on what had happened during that ceremony it was clear to me that some spiritual force, angels or whatever, revitalized and swept away the onset of that illness so that the heavenly Will could be accomplished. Alleluia.

After that I was left to my own and, through some fortunate connections of my wife, was able to obtain diarrhea medicine from several sources, all of which I took to stem the tide. After several hours I could dare to move and take the bus back to the airport.

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