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Sounding the Bamboo

Time 0:04:55


You know, when you are working, life is so busy, you don’t have time to reflect. But once you’ve retired there is so much time. Actually I don’t know what to do. I have no projects, no deadlines, no place to go. I need to do something with mindfulness, but my mind feels like it’s evacuated somewhere.

I worked at the United Church of Canada and did a lot of women’s leadership and intercultural trainings. The most important event I organized was called Sounding the Bamboo when ethnic women from across Canada came together. When women immigrate, they change from being smart and educated to feeling they are nobody. I know because the same thing happened to me. We shared our stories and there was a lot of spiritual and emotional healing.

And yet, although I supported so many women, I didn’t take time for my own healing. When my mom died, the day after her burial, I had to take 30 Canadians to Korea. I did my job perfectly for 2 weeks. But because I had to hide my feelings, my heart felt frozen. Just a few months later, I retired. Now there was too much time to reflect. I go back and back and back.

Because my father was a landowner’s son, and he was arrested, put in jail. He and his father were judged by the farmers of their land. He tried to escape to the South but was caught. He was jailed and tortured. This incident scarred him for life, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Even when we were safe in South Korea, he was always scared that North Korea would invade again. So, he sent all of his children to North America as soon as we finished university. When all the children had gone, my parents joined me in Canada.

Because we lived in the same condo our doors were open to each other all the time. I was privileged to live so close to my parents for over 20 years. I think of the weekend bbqs, our trips to the States to visit my brothers, and in the van my father is snoring. My father said to his six children, until my death, we will gather every year on my birthday. That was his legacy.

I had three years now to say good-bye to my parents. I know they need me to take the next step for myself. This Friday I am going to meet with a few of the bamboo women, to see if maybe we can rekindle something. It’s our first meeting in three years. This time, I am going to pass the torch to the younger women but I will stay involved. This is my last chapter, I want to move forward with great hope.

Bamboo is hollow inside, but when several are put together, they are very strong and resilient.

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