The Shabbat Hike that Wasn’t and a Cup of Coffee with Mr. Cho

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Mr. Cho with a Cup of Coffee


My original thoughts on my encounter with Mr. Cho were pecked out on my iphone to my brother after walking back to the hotel.   This happened 2 weeks ago while in the Korean countryside.

Sometimes Father has other plans for us.  We have to be open to receive those plans, because when we give over to Father’s plan then the fuller our lives will be.

Father truly works wonders for us.  I couldn’t spend my usual Shabbat cooking for my family but I was to find out that Father has other plans for me this hot shabbat day.

I decided i needed to be out in the nature that surrounded myself at the JIMFF and see what I could in this lovely land.  I Went for a walk in late morning near the hotel.  At first I walked over to where the outdoor venue was setup to discover that there was noting open and no one was around at this early hour.

Before I reached the site I noticed an official brown sign in Korean and English that said ruins 600 meters.  I thought to myself 600 meters, to see some ancient Korean ruins sounded like a pretty good idea for a Shabbat hike. Let me see were the road would take me.

The paved road quickly gave way to gravel.  I Passed tow older Korean hikers coming on down from the trail and greeted them with a Anyahaseiyo (Hello).  I should have known but the trekkers were decked out in boots, backs, and walking sticks.

I then Came to a home and was greeted by an older gentle Korean man.  He warned me in good English that the trail was rough ahead.  Thinking to myself It can’t be that Bad.  I have hiked in the Rocky Mountains.  I decided to keep walking and see what there was to be seen.

I probably didn’t get more that 200 meter or so up the path till it became a watery bog.  It was not a hike that I was going to be able to make in my low top Sauconys.

I knew that the right thing to do was to head back down the path feeling defeated by not being properly prepared for my journey.

I told the man I would have needed a good pair of hiking boots and that my tennis shoes just weren’t going to be able to take me where I wanted to go.

He then offered me some coffee.  I instinctively knew I shouldn’t refuse.  He next offered me a seat on a low bench in the shade.  The bench had a cardboard box of grapes, a good had for the sun a pack of smokes and a lighter.

As we sip on the hot sweet coffee he began to tell about his life.  His name was Cho and he ran a wedding hall business in Jecheon and he was only visiting these friends for a quick weekend getaway.  He was 71 years old but explained that Koreans count the first year in the womb so actually he was still 69.

He has 5 children all of whom had graduated from US universities.  They were top class schools: UCLA USC, NYU, and Brown.  Most of his children still live in the US and he goes and visits them when he can.

He knows that he needs to give back to his community; therefore, he feeds the needy every Wednesday.  He also, helps young people get scholarships for high school.  I didn’t know but in Korea junior high school is payed for by the state but high school is payed by the parents.

He is truly doing works for Father.  It was a meeting that did not happen by accident.  I had to learn from a wet pair of sneakers that meeting Mr. Cho had been arranged by the Most High on a hot and humid Shabbat hike.

The last thing that Mr. Cho taught me before I left was the buddhist word in Korean, inyoen, which Minju later told me meant everything is connected.  Which I thought was completely fitting our non-random Shabbat reasoning session.


Camping with a Fan

Mr. Cho's Hat and Smokes

The Hike That Wasn't

Winter: Orange, Blood, and Pride

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

The calendar now tells me it is winter.  Only two days ago the temperature peaked at 20 degrees celsius, however, the Creator must have looked at the calendar too because the temperature dipped down to 4 degrees celsius last night.  I am up and out of my house the earliest on Friday, which is a good thing.  It is like the sooner I can get my day over with, the sooner I can sit back and be thankful for the allotted time of the Sabbath.

I have to journey out to the boonies of Chiba prefecture, which entails using a train and a local bus.  On rainy days, like today, the bus is always jammed pack.  Today it was especially packed with junior high school students.  They are certainly a noisy bunch.  I got on the bus a bit late, but luckily I could find a seat.  Usually, I am in the back of the bus, today I was in the front sitting in the section that is reserved for elderly, moms, injured and the like.  After I took my seat an elderly man and woman also got on the bus.  I got up, tapped the elderly woman on the shoulder, and offered up my seat.  She, being the polite Japanese woman didn’t want to accept the seat, saying that she was going to get off the bus soon.  Eventually after some back and forth pleading, she took the seat.  I was amazed, but not surprised that none of the kids offered up their seats to the the elderly gentleman.  They all absorbed themselves with studying, or staring into their cellphones.  Quite a lack of respect for their elders.  It was me, the gaijin (foreigner) that set the example, that was ignored by the youth.

After taking care of what I needed to do for the day in Chiba I always take a leisurely walk back to the station to unwind, and to begin my mediations on the Sabbath.  It is the time to change those gears that grind away in my mind, and let them start to ease into a mode where I am able to give thanks, and recoup my mind, body and spirit.  The wind was whipping around my scarf as I wandered down the backstreets.  My eyes taking it all in.  I am on the lookout for that next perfect square to shoot.  I am amazed at how many flowers are still in bloom.  I am not sure if it is because of the late warm weather, or it is just that I never really pains close attention to the changing seasons and the changes in the blossoms that it brings.

Since returning to Japan post the March 11th earthquake disasters, I have been much more in tune with the seasons.  I notice how the blossoms hit their peak one week, then the next begin to whiter away, or change into green fruit.  I am thoroughly enjoying watching the seasons change.  I am fascinated in catching those changes with my camera.  The images are a visual diary of the intersection of my world with the the natural world.

As I continued on I came across an elderly man and woman.  The man had fallen down on the slippery slope and the woman, from what I could gather, was trying to help him.  The mans hand had gotten beaten up and was bleeding.  The woman to had blood on her hand from trying to help the gentleman.  I took the man by the arm and helped get him to his feet.  I rummaged though by bag and found a pack of tissues I had been handed at the station sometime before.  The man just kind of stumbled off. He pretty much refused our help.  The last thing the woman said to me was he probably was drunk.

I am thankful for these vignettes in disguise as life’s lessons.  They are the 24 frames per second that make up our lives.  I am thankful to pause and ponder my place in it all.  If I had taken another way back to the station, I would have missed the man that had fallen, yet I was pulled in that direction.

We should all take the time to respect our elders.  They have been here before us.  They have stories etched into the lines on their faces.  It is just one more piece of the life puzzle that I am thankful for.

May you all enjoy a beautiful day of rest.  Enjoy the time given to regenerate the spirit.

Three Triumphant Orange Winter

The Boxer of Narashino, by Knock Out

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I was enjoying my stroll on the way to bus stop.  Stopping and clicking with my camera whenever the urge hit me.  A shot of something fallen over in a window display, some golden kanji painted on the door of a barbershop.

I noticed out of the corner of my eye an old man with a bright red shirt, kind of checking me out. I haven’t always had the best of luck with older Japanese men on the street in Japan before, so I was on my guard.

But, this time was different. He wanted to me to take his picture.  He stuck this boxing pose and I snapped it with my ricoh.

He then chatted me up for a minute telling me where are the best spots to shoot Mt.  Fuji.  He also mentioned that there are elaborate paintings of Mt. Fuji at the Sento (Public Bath House).  Which I already knew.

It turned out to be a nice little chat, and he shook my hand when we went our separate ways.

Knocked out!!

Boxer of Narashino City

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