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[Opinion] Lighting up Candles of Confession

Posted December. 31, 2001 09:22,   


Washing my hands in the morning/ With this hand, how many people/ how many papers and books, had I defiled?/ Repenting and washing my hands…….. following the Word, whispering you to lay down everything but go with only one pure belonging, Friends,/ putting down the stolen books,/ throwing away the dirty money,/ giving up the opaque mirror,/ I am washing my hands polluted even under the nails/ rubbing out with rocks/ washing my hands with soaps again…. (`Washing my hand in the morning`, Yoon Jae-Rim)

Reading a collection of poems by Yoon, `Missing Love` looking out the pine tree forest through a window, I am waiting for a New Year. One may erase the names from the diary to clear the year but in my diary more names are filling in.

A middle aged householder who is in prison for killing his teen aged kids when trying to commit suicide with the whole family but even failing at the attempt. An unmarried mother who entrusted her baby to me after changing her mind in the hospital where she went to erase the baby. A K-12 student who wants to be scolded, saying that no one interrupt me no matter what evil things ever I do, so, sister!, please, tell me, "You are sinful." A young woman who is agonizing over her illicit love, seeing that a family is breaking off by her love. A home-making woman suffering from depression feels like killing herself, ignoring her family. And further more. I felt like living in a `Blue House` which is filled with `tears`.

I am lighting up the candles of confession in my mind, my home, and my church, waving a farewell to the year that surprised me with unimaginable shocks and the year that commended me to pray more but somehow I couldn`t be absorbed in the prayer.

At the end of the year, people in the monasteries have a time to confess their sins and request for the forgiveness. Why don`t we confess together the following today:

We were not pure and innocent.

We have failed to keep our eyes, ears, and mouth clean and pure while dreaming for a clean, pure, and beautiful mind. We often desired something sensual and were negligent of laying out an inner garden. We have lost our harmony by unnecessary inquisitiveness, excessive desire for accomplishment, and intemperate life.

We were not humble.

We have been lack of humbleness and courage to repent our mistakes fully and to say that we don`t know what we don`t know. We did not willingly accept the advice of good will and complained often rather than finding a thanksgiving.

We did not love.

We haven`t been merciful enough to care for each other and to listen to other`s voices. Rather than embracing other`s fault, we hurt them with impatient words and gestures. Often we made our neighbors uncomfortable with excessive selfish demands.

We were not in peace.

There was no peace in our mind, which had been remained an idle onlooker, being negligent of participating in the suffering of our neighbors. It`s been a year that we newly recognized that the peace is not a dream far from us but in the fruits of our repentance, forgiveness, and sharing.

Leaving the year that I come along with an Indian saying, "live a day for the peace of the night, live the youth for the peace in the winter of life, and live the life of the old age for the peace of the future life after death." now I am climbing up a hill of a new year with a grateful mind.

We may smile since we still have a hope to begin again even after repeating the same mistake.

I am still away from finishing touches/ haven`t completed the things in yesterday./ the new year approaching us like an unexpected guest, Friends/ Yet, Let`s/ welcome it with a joy,/ in our shrunken mind/ place an endless ocean/ waving with an endless love./ in our shallow mind,/ tap a deep spring from which profound wisdom flows over./ Embracing the grace of living, Friends,/ in the new year, let`s talk about a beauty with more beautiful mother tongue/ let`s say a beautiful prayer.

From `A Postcard of New Year`s Day` by Lee Hae-In

Lee Hae-In (Poet, St. Benedict Convent in Pusan)