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

Shabbat Dinner Full Life

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Shabbat is the time to rest and separate oneself from the worldly world and refocus our energies, thoughts, and hearts towards the Creator.  I like to begin my meditation by cooking the shabbat meal.  When I am working I do not have much time to labor in the kitchen; however, this Friday I and most of Japan had the day off for the emperor’s birthday.  I decided to cook up a feast for dinner.

My friend had brought in a spice box that his family had sent him from the Boston area.  It smelled so fresh, strongly scented with sage and oregano.  The product is called Bell’s Seasoning, and it came in a box that the design probably hasn’t changed for 60 years.  After smelling these herbs I had an urge to make stuffing from scratch.  This was one of the the components of my meal.  I also roasted up some chicken with a red wine and pomegranate reduction sauce, with some garlic potatoes and turnips.

I wanted to welcome the shabbat the best way I could by creating and beginning my meditations with the food to be eaten slowly and enjoyed with my family.

I have begun to become interested in the still life genre, mainly because of my friend E. John  Walford’s images.  His still-lifes has stirred in me a desire to return to s classic genre style as a further exploration on my photography.  This one is not still, it is FULL of life.

Shabbat Shalom

May you all have a peaceful and restful day.

Shabbat Dinner Full Life

Jacob Saw the Sun Come Out

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

The morning was the coldest that it has been thus far.  And to top it off I was running behind due to the cold and the persistent rain.  I do enjoy the journey out to Chiba in the morning before I make my preparations for the shabbat, but nothing seemed to go right this morning.  I got out of bed late, and had to hurriedly eat my cereal and banana. Then, I made it outside to realize that I had forgotten my iPod on its charger in the house.  I look to my right to see the Number 24 bus, my bus, coming, so I had to kick up my heals to be able to catch the bus on time.  Usually I catch the 7:25 direct train to Tsudanuma station, but I caught the 7:27 one to Tsudanuma.  It doesn’t seem like much, right?  We are only talking about a 2 minute time difference, but it was enough for me to miss the 7:57 bus, and I had to wait 15 minutes in the cold for the next one.

I am not really complaining, because that I know in a few short hours I will be able to put aside all my worldly worries and focus on the shabbat.  When I had finished up my business in Chiba, and the sun had finally come out to greet the sabbath bride.  It was the creator smiling down, showing me the way that things are suppose to be, and where I need to focus my energies.  I need not to fret and worry over such trifle matters as missing my bus.  I need to remember to be thankful and look for that sunshine.

Then the Sun Came Out

Bathed in Friday’s Waters

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

The rain came down in heavy sheets on Friday.  It continued on into the early afternoon as I made my way back to Mimomi train station.  All of the plants were dripping with water.  Droplets rolled off the leaves and petals and onto the ground below.  It got me thinking about preparing for the sabbath, and the mikvahs, or ritual Jewish/Israelite bathing.  The bath is to wash away spiritual impurities and allow the self to become ritually clean.  The ritual bathing was of upmost importance to the ancient Israelites.  It is still done by many today, but for most reformed Jews it has become a ritual of the past.

I myself like to feel refreshed after the immersion in a bath.  The feeling not only that comes from being physically clean, but that sensation that the impurities that are collected in the world can be washed way too.  I may never have been to an official mikvah, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot become clean.

Consider the flowers in this images.  They can never go to a ritual bath.  They can only become ritual clean by letting the droplets wash over their petals.  For me it is about the spirit of the the law not the semantics of it.

Therefore, allow time to cleanse yourself.  Not only the dirt and grime of daily life, but the negative energies that we accumulate from being part of the world.  Let those droplets wash over your.  Let the immersion in water cleanse your soul.

Bathed Friday's Flowers

Forecast is Rain, More Rain, and then a Typhoon

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Rain has been forecasted for the next several days, leading up to a typhoon that will come by Tokyo on Tuesday.  There is no rest for us.  I am thankful at least that it isn’t hot yet.  Sometimes it just seems that there is one disaster after another.  Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, severe thunderstorms, typhoons, hurricanes.  I wonder if it will ever end, or are these signs of the times?

Given all the turbulence in the world, I will spend my sabbath with family and being thankful for the end of another week.  It is a weekly reminder of what is important, and what is not.  It gives me the pause to let that which is not important to just slide off from my soul.

At lest there is a little purple sunshine on a rainy, mist filled afternoon.  I wish all my friends and family a restful and fulfilling sabbath.

Purple Rainy Sunshine

Sunny Side of the Afternoon

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Each day seems to be a bit warmer than the last.  If you stand in the shade or aren’t in motion the air is still rather dry and cool.  However, as soon as you start to troop around you quickly realize that it isn’t that spring like anymore.

The early spring flowers that signal the coming spring, have faded, and those early summer buds are now blooming.  All of the fauna are richly green as they reach for the sun.

I have recently been feeling those phantom quakes.  I don’t know if they are real, or only in my head.  I suspect they are mainly in my head.  At least the day of rest is upon us.  It is time to take a pause, reflect, and be thankful for all things.

Orange by the Pole

Hanging in the Afternoon

Another Week, Time to Give Thanks

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Another week has come to a close here in Tokyo.  The week that was filled with dust, dirt, and pollen.  The air was playing hell with my allergies.  I tried to do the Japanese way of wearing a surgical mask, but that helped just a bit.

I am thankful for making it to another shabbat.  The time that has been set aside for reflection and rest.  To look back on the week, and be thankful for what we have.  And I am truly thankful.  I am thankful for my friends and family being safe and in good health.  I am thankful for all the beauty that surrounds my lens.  The flowers are a constant reminder of the change that is brewing here in japan.  The change that needs to happen for this society to overcome all of their difficulties.  I hope that they too will stop to take heed of this beauty, and let the colors inspire them to reach higher than they have ever before.

It is time to put away petty differences.  It is time to see the good in the world and time to put away childish selfish ways.  The glory bubble times are long gone.  It is time to sober up and put forth conversation, and real inclusive unity rather than just for show.

So to all of you, I ask that you in your works, take time to pause, and reflect.  Stop and look up high into the sky and watch the clouds dance across.  Stop, and look at your feet and see the little blooms that are scattered at your feet.

The earth will shake, the rain will fall, and we will be here, being thankful for the life that we are given.

Peace from Tokyo.

Junglefied Front Garden

Wisteria in the Neighborhood

Potted Step Up

Time to Pause

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

I love that pause that starts Friday night.  The time to recoup my strength.  A chance to restore my mental and physical energies.  I time to reflect on the week, and plan the week to come.

I give thanks that I made it to another Friday night.  A lovely ritual of home cooked food, a glass of wine, the warm glow of candles, and the company of my wife.  It is a beautiful ritual.

All stay upfull and blessed!!

Double Me Glass

Rectangle Squared Drip

Sneaking Through

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