The trees once went out to anoint a king over themselves. So they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ The olive tree answered them, ‘Shall I stop producing my rich oil by which gods and mortals are honored, and go to sway over the trees?’ -Judges 9:8-9
Dear members and friends,
2019 is my last year in my 40s. Embracing 2020 means personally embracing the coming of the age 50. These days, a 50-year-old person is not really regarded as old at all, so why be sentimental about it? Regardless of how it is treated and accepted in society these days, there seems to be a strong significance about 50. Perhaps it is due to my study of Confucius regarding the progress of life in stages of age, but this statement has always stayed in my mind:
At the age of 15, I set my mind to study inner cultivation. At the age of 30, I was able to stand independently. At the age of 40, I was able to hold unshakable from all temptations. At the age of 50, I understood the mandate of Heaven. At the age of 60, my ears became smooth and easy, and thus I was able to listen to all. At the age of 70, I live by the desire of my heart, and yet was perfectly in accord with the law of Heaven.
Now, I am approaching my 50s and wondering what the mandate of Heaven means for me. This concept, the mandate of Heaven, is from a very old Daoist concept that is cited by one of the most beloved Chinese poets, Li Bai, in his poem “Bring in the Wine.” The actual Chinese verse is like this, “天生我材必有用.” The rough translation could be, “There should be a purpose for my gift given by Heaven.” This is from the Daoist principle that every existence under Heaven has a purpose in creating a harmonious and mutually supportive world together. I am taking this time to reflect upon two things: 1. What is my gift given by Heaven (or God)?; 2. How have I used my gift to benefit the whole world?
As the end of the year is near, I invite you all to take a moment for self-reflection on this as well. Consequently, I send my blessings to you all for a more enriched and deepened understanding about yourself and your purpose in the world.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee