Articles From the October 1994 Unification News
Chusok Celebration at East Garden
Reverend and Mrs. Moon traveled from Kodiak to East Garden last September 19, arriving home quite late at night and speaking to the gathered members until 1:30 in the morning. Among the topics of discussion was the recent gathering of international church leaders from 40 nations. Taking place in Kodiak in the month following the 20th anniversary of the Oceanic Providence (see UNews, August 1994), this conference introduced the spiritual and practical dimensions of Ocean Church on a worldwide scale. On the practical side, the church leaders received nautical instruction from local Coast Guard personnel. The Coast Guard was highly impressed with the spirit and enthusiasm of our church leaders.
At evening's end, Reverend Moon invited all of the hundred or more who were gathered to a celebration of chusok on the following morning. We were invited to bring with us our oldest and youngest children.
The following morning, September 20, was a happy and festive occasion. Chusok is a traditional Korean celebration which rivals New Year's day in its importance. It is celebrated according to the lunar calendar, on August 15, which is what we in the west would call the harvest moon, the last full moon of the summer. It is a period in modern Korea during which the highways are jammed with cars full of families returning to their ancestral hometowns. It is time of great family reunions, as all the extended family members go to the gravesite of their ancestral progenitors.
At the gravesites, offerings of fruit and flowers are made, and the ancestors are invited to join them in the family reunion. As this was explained to us by Mr. Peter Kim, director of the East Garden center, this is not ancestor worship, although Christian missionaries may have misinterpreted it as such. Venerable Korean tradition, indeed Oriental tradition in general, calls for honoring one's parents and grandparents. Naturally this extends to the parents of your grandparents, and so on back into history.
This tradition of filial piety is meant to comfort the ancestors, and extend gratitude for their having passed on the gift of life to this generation.
The celebration at East Garden this year was very simple. After the breakfast meal, each family was invited to take the microphone and introduce their children. Father said that in the introduction you should praise your children and make everyone very impressed with their heavenly character and great accomplishments. The introductions which followed took some two to three hours in all. Some were quite extended and detailed; others very brief, but through them all, Reverend and Mrs. Moon displayed an absolute interest and attentiveness. They seemed highly concerned about each family, and conveyed sympathy and, well, parental love to each family in turn.
The high point of humor was Mr. Tatao Sato, leader of Ocean Church, who went to a great deal of trouble to extricate from his pocket a sheaf of papers, find his written notes, and proudly inform everyone that his daughter is seventeen years old.
After the introductions came the singing. Korean traditional songs, Japanese songs and songs from around the world were shared. We could truly feel that even our ancestors were dancing together in the spirit world, with barriers of race, nation and religion melting away.
After sharing a lunch of quarter-pounders with cheese and Ginseng-Up, Reverend and Mrs. Moon took their leave. Before his departure, Reverend Moon announced that we will celebrate chusok as a Unification Church event every year.
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