In Korea, people welcome the New Year by going to the mountains, the sea, or a beautiful café with a view of the horizon to watch the sunrise. This morning, I decided to wake up early, brace myself for the freezing cold weather, and then make my way to Page 38 (a nearby café) to join others in welcoming 2021 the Korean style. I was not disappointed!
Winter in Korea is very cold, and this week specifically stood out to me for its strong winds that made me feel like I was in a typhoon minus the rain. Regardless of the cold weather and strong winds, the sun has been shining brightly every day. I have experienced many beautiful sunrises during my time in Korea, but this one will forever be engraved in my heart as a special one.
After getting my vanilla latte to go, I made my way to the beach area where others were already gathering with their camera equipment and hot beverages to await the sunrise. There were shells of various shapes and sizes everywhere, couples holding hands, friends bundled together, and excitement all around. I stood on a rock at a distance from the crowd as a precaution since my condition makes me particularly vulnerable to viruses (like COVID). If you know me, you know this is very difficult because I am a social person — I love meeting new people and striking up conversations with strangers (remember, children – don’t talk to strangers!). Nevertheless, I behaved.
As I waited for the sun to show its face, I meditated and reflected on the year’s challenges as well as the things I needed to celebrate. 2020 wasn’t all bad, even though it was a year that brought loss and much unexpected suffering to many. I am grateful that God has kept me well; that His presence in my life satisfies all my needs and fills me with hope for each new day. I am grateful that my family is well, my husband and my children are healthy. They have a warm place to live and good food to eat. I am grateful I was able to have my book published and that I have still been allowed to travel. I am grateful that I have been able to knock out several bucket list items, and have even added a few new ones in the process.
While I watched the sunrise in all its glory, I looked around in amazement at the quiet peace that surrounded me. It was a serene moment with only the song of the wind and the waves’ happy dance as they crashed against rocks, like in a kid’s game. I experienced a quiet peace as I prayed and watched people say their prayers — some to Jesus, others to Buddha, or to the god they worship. The one thing we all had in common was the thought that in that moment, the world seemed to stand still. As we watched the sun welcome this new year, a glimpse of hope, like light piercing the darkness, brought us a warm feeling in our hearts. It was a beautiful reminder that our troubles — no matter how real they are – will one day disappear and God will shine His beautiful light over His creation, covering all with His love, like a warm blanket on a cold, wintery night.