Person: So where are you and Joo living now?
Me: We'll be going to Athens, OH this fall (or as soon as we find a house) but until then we're staying with my parents.
Person: That's cool - good financial decision; save some money in the bank...
And while these past several months of living with my parents certainly have helped us out financially, Joo and I both view it as an incredible relational opportunity as well. Virtually everywhere I've travelled outside of the US - Central America, South America, Southeast Asia, India, Korea - maybe not always in big cities, and not so much in Europe, but a good portion of the households living together are extended families. It's so deeply rooted in the culture that it's not even questioned in a modern city like Seoul when kids live with their parents well into their 30's, many times even after marriage, and some times throughout their entire life (although at some point the emphasis clearly shifts from "kids living with their parents" to "parents living with their kids.")
I started thinking more about this the other day when Joo and I witnessed an interesting scene outside the window. A smaller morning dove flew up onto the deck and was quickly scared off by an adult morning dove who swooped down from her nest on the side of our house wall. The smaller morning dove panicked and, in an attempt to get away, flew smack into the railing of the deck. It went down hard and the adult came and started pecking at it and eventually pushed it off the deck. We ran outside and followed the scene down below where the adult was continuing to peck the youth, which we thought was dead by this time.
We also got a better look at the youth and Joo was quite sure it was one of the two morning dove chicks that had hatched a month or two previously and lived for some time in the aforementioned nest by the house (the same nest which the mother morning dove is now incubating two new eggs in). So, perhaps, the child had been trying to return to its nest when it was rejected by the mother who, in a show of tough love, conveyed that it was time to move on. For the next couple days, the youth (who was alive and well, at least physically) sat rigidly up in a tree branch just a few meters away from the "old nest."
Family. Two days ago, the former president of South Korea jumped off a cliff to his death, apparently due to an ongoing court battle which involved some misdoings of two children and his wife. Whatever drove him to that point was almost certainly related to family dynamics.
I remember meeting an Indian guy, Manoj, who had two wives: one through a love marriage and the other through an arranged marriage. At first I thought it was pretty far out, but in a sense, that's how it is for most of us too- we choose our spouse, but our family is "arranged" - and these two relationships usually become our deepest lifelong bonds on this earth. I certainly feel blessed in both senses and, returning to the opening discussion, that's why these past few months have been such a joy for me.
On a final note, I've been thinking about what it means to judge things and others. Specifically, I was thinking about why we judge some things/people as beautiful or good and others as ugly or bad. Take for example our garden in the above picture. Joo and I check on it several times a day and consider it very "beautiful." In contrast, a recent stench that's been emanating out back led me to find this skunk which is being digested by flies and vultures. The picture alone made Joo feel somewhat sick in the stomach and we would certainly consider it "ugly."
But why? It's not because of colors- the skunk is more colorful than the garden. Perhaps the odor is a turnoff for the skunk (although Joo says the more she smells it in the air, the more she thinks of sesame.) Is it because the garden is moving towards life and the skunk has entered the death stage? Is it because the skunk has nothing to offer us, but the garden has the potential of producing a variety crop of delicious vegetables? Maybe its just part of our self-preservation instincts wherein eating a rotting skunk would almost certainly make us unhealthy but eating fresh organic vegetables reaps health.
I was also thinking back to a time in my early twenties when I belonged to a very intense esoteric and fundamentalist Bible Study. While I have many peaceful memories of the simplicity and devotion of our meetings, I also have some negative recall of the amount of judgement that went on under the guise of prayer requests and prophetic visions. All the guilt, desperation, fear and doubt that accompanied thoughts of "The Great Judgement" where God would send some people to eternal paradise and the others to eternal damnation. And about my days in Jr. High when it felt like everyone was judging and being judged on social skills, physical attraction, clothes, etc.
In fact, I think in general throughout my life, many of the most painful and negative memories deal with some form of judgement, while the most loving and positive ones have dealt with acceptance, unity, bonding, and unconditional love. On the other hand, there are certainly types of judgement I practice in my daily life that seem to be quite healthy practices - most notably, how we spend our time, money, and energy in "good" or "bad" ways and what we put into our bodies (food, air, etc.) and what comes out of our bodies (speech, etc.). So, I want to think some more about this - comments welcome!