Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guest Post Series: Andrew Abercrombie

My friend Drew Abercrombie goes by "Drewber" to his college friends.  We know him as the philosophical, well spoken, fun-seeking gentleman.  I've been super blessed to have his company on occasion here in Korea since he moved to Chuncheon in February.  As if Drew and I weren't already good friends, having these Korean experiences to share, too, has given us an extra special element to our long friendship.

Drew blogs at The Habit of Living.  Considering my fondness for what I like to call human moments, this is my favorite post.  And now, here he is to speak to us for the first time about Home!

"Borne Away"
by Drew Abercrombie

I wonder sometimes if the makers of trains, planes, and automobiles knew what they were doing.  Maybe they thought they were stitching the world together with railroad ties and flight plans, but I imagine them slowly cranking a catapult, by which they flung their children’s children across the world, where they landed and stuck.

Read: "Machine for Hurling PEOPLE"
For example, I know a retired music teacher.  He survived the Korean War at 5-years-old and grew up to marry and have children.  None of them are left.  His pianist daughter married a Russian musician and lives in St. Petersburg; his first son works in Indonesia, and his second son studies in Germany.  Now he lives with his wife and empty nest.  But this is not normal.

In Korean culture, hometowns hold deep meaning.  Once a year, people return to their hometowns where their family’s roots sink deep, and there tend the graves of their ancestors and honor their memory with ceremonial meals and bows. The hometown is the native land, to which one is linked by blood and birth.  What makes people leave such rich heritage I don’t know.  But I guess it is the same thing that brought me from my native Florida to East Tennessee, and now to Chuncheon, South Korea.

The bike trail which runs behind my house in Orlando, the scene of many childhood adventures and my first job: walking the neighbor's dog.
Snow Falls, one of several falls in Pocket Wilderness near my alma mater, Bryan College, in East Tennessee. Often friends and I went traipsing through the woods, discovering new secrets and beauties.

My hometown, in Korean terms, will always be Orlando, FL. But that place became strange after the first weeks of university in Tennessee. When I returned home that fall, my sense of belonging had been stripped away. Only when I reentered my dormitory did I declare, “Honey, I’m home,” like some Ricky Ricardo. And just as quickly, that home faded too, such that visiting my alma mater post graduation left me repulsed, with the realization that my work there was finished, and remaining now was unthinkable. I belonged somewhere else.

I cross this stream on my way to Korea lessons.  It flows from the eastern mountains down to Soyang Lake.
Photo credit: Levi Johnson

The view overlooking Kangdae Humoon, the backside of the main university in Chuncheon.  It is home to cheap food and young faces, and is a popular hangout for foreigners and Koreans alike.
Photo credit to Levi Johnson

So I find that however familiar Orlando or the foothills of Tennessee are, or however much I cherish the friends or the memories there, I can’t remain if I have completed my work in those places, or rather, those places have completed their work in me. Staying feels like letting the fruit rot on the tree at harvest when instead it ought to be borne away to sow new fields or feed hungry people.  It must go where it can flourish, and that place is home.  Fruit is for the harvest; nests are for the sending. Otherwise, they are wasted.

The thousands students I teach every week.  After a year I can remember 20 names, despite their identical hair styles and uniforms.

One pleasant Fall evening, my friends and rode our bikes onto this peninsula, where we skipped rocks on the lake.
Photo credit to Leslie Hernandez
These days, I have been borne away to Chuncheon, and making this place home has made the rest of the world strange. I love teaching Korean students and I love the community of Koreans and foreigners alike. As one friend said, “Never in my life have I lived amongst so many wholesome young men and women.” And he’s right.  Chuncheon’s universities and schools draw students and English teachers from Korea and the world over, where we all thrive, doing work before us.

Our Church, Harvest Time, threw a surprise birthday for one of our pastor’s. Already some here, ripe for the sending, have moved and made new places home.

But I know, despite the beauty of the mountains and the river, or the deep roots of relationships we’ve made, someday we will each wake up to the harvest, and be borne away.

For more of Drew's musings, head over to The Habit of Living, and be sure to comment your thoughts here.

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