What a surprise and joy it is to encounter an unexpected person! I had a chance to visit a historic church in Rome with a Pauline sister from another country who took the same course as me.
When we entered the yard, a man was repairing beautiful mosaic tiles on the ground. Because we looked at the marvelous design most attentively with wondering eyes, he handed each of us a piece of tiny tile split into two, saying "Perhaps you will meet each other again someday."
After the course, all of us returned to our respective countries. Living far away from each other, I don't know if we will meet again, but I still keep that piece of broken tile with me.
One day, a close friend who graduated from the same rural elementary school as me visited our Congregation. It was a really surprising encounter after 43 years. I hadn't thought about him in a long time.
He said coming to see me was on his bucket list. At the beginning of our meeting, we thought our discussion would be somewhat uncomfortable, but we talked and talked. When I saw him, I recognized him immediately because I saw the same pure and innocent smile in his face that I liked so much during my childhood.
A year later, I invited him to a painting exhibition by our sisters at an art gallery in Myeongdong. Then, after another year, I was invited to the reunion of my elementary school alumni. I heard they had started to meet once a year.
Fortunately, this time, the alumni gathered in Seoul, near the Congregation. So many friends living in the country came to the capital to attend the reunion. About half of them are still living in the same rural area, but the rest of them are living in Seoul or Suwon.
There were about 68 friends in our class in elementary school. This year, 42 were present at the meeting. Wearing their name tags, they played soccer and some games on the playground in the park.
One of the friends shared some fruit and rice cakes with us in the playground that day. Another brought little pieces of fast-fermented bean paste called "cheonggukjang" to share with others. And yet another made memorial towels to present to each of us. It was very encouraging to see these spontaneous and voluntary acts of sharing.
I just greeted them and talked with them for a while. I couldn't remember every face but I found some familiar ones. A few friends positively approached me, introducing themselves using Christian names.
I went back to my Convent before dark, but they had dinner and enjoyed their time together. Some of them slept in a holiday villa and climbed a mountain early the next morning. Eight of them, whom I invited to come for a bazaar being held to raise building funds, visited the Congregation the next day as well. I really appreciated their presence and concern for others.
To make the reunion happen, some friends worked so hard to arrange the schedule. I wonder how they have lived so far and what kind of experiences they have had along the way! Perhaps we can meet again in the future.
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