No man is an island…

The king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” -Matthew 25:40

Dear Members and Friends of the SF Swedenborgian Church,

In June, I took three weeks of vacation to visit my family in Korea. The previous visit happened about five years ago, so we were all excited and eager to fly out and spend time with the Lee and Moon families. To make the visit even more special, my sister planned a very special trip to Jeju Island, which is a very popular vacation spot in Korea. We were a party of 12: my mother, my older brother and his family, my sister and her family, and my family. Last time we were all together was many years ago, but it felt like only a week or month had passed since we were last in each other’s company. The three weeks passed like a dream, then in no time I was on the flight back to San Francisco. During that long, 12-hour flight, I was able to reflect on my visit and realize how good it felt to be with with my family again!

As far as family relationships are concerned, the 21st century has brought us a blessing and a curse at the same time. The blessing is that, if you are a person in a developed country, there is an abundance of resources to support and to enjoy your family in ways which were impossible in the past. However, there also are a number of problems for us modern, first-world people including the notion of capitalistic individualism, which provides a convincing argument that a single person can provide all of one’s needs without any help from others. This becomes a curse because there is an illusion at its very core: the claim acknowledges only the materialistic side of a person without recognizing the importance of interdependent relationship with others. This notion is solely based on a humans as bio-organic beings without an inner self. The truth is that a human being is much more than just a bio-organic creature that happens to have self-consciousness. This was true even to the ancient Greek philosophers who lived 2,800 year ago. They argued that what truly satisfies a human being is not of matter, but of psyche (mind/spirit). And, there is a great satisfaction and fulfillment from simply connecting to and being in the presence of family!

When I was among my family, I felt some deep sensation touching my heart in such a special way that it’s difficult for me to accurately describe it in words. All I can say is at that moment, I felt like their being and presence was making me feel more alive! That was probably the reason that the early Christians called each other brother and sister and accepted each other as family. It seems that deep within our psyche (or mind/spirit) is a certain innate need that is only fulfilled by having an interdependent and mutually supportive relationship with those humans whom we love. When love is shared willingly and freely, God is more present. As a consequence, all things present become more vividly alive!

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee