Life in the End Times

Shin's gift to Annie on their One Year Anniversary

God’s Temple

Filed under: Creative Reflection — Annie at 11:07 am on Thursday, July 17, 2008

Yesterday morning I read something that totally gripped me. But I didn’t know why it was so powerful. It was a passage from Ezra 3:11-13
With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.
But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.
No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.

It is just powerful scene in itself when considering all the hardships the Israelites had already been through. After being exiled this amazing Persian, King Cyrus receives an appointment from the God of Israel to build a temple for him in Jerusalem. This is the rebuilding of the temple that King Solomon had built so splendidly around 1450bc. (http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/egyptexodus.htm)

Cyrus began this building in the first year of his reign which looks like was in 546bc when he assumed the title, “King of Persia”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_the_Great). I don’t know how many years the temple had been in ruins before rebuilding. But it couldn’t have been more than a lifetime because some of the older Israelites had seen the first temple.

So last night I was telling Shin about this passage and he said he had read it not too long ago himself so we pondered what was the emotion behind their tears. Coincidentally over dinner last night we talked with my in-laws about the word, “Han” in Hangook or Korea. And how that word “Han” entails so much history and emotion that has been passed down.

“The minjung theologian, Suh Nam-dong describes han as a “feeling of unresolved resentment against injustices suffered, a sense of helplessness because of the overwhelming odds against one, a feeling of acute pain in one’s guts and bowels, making the whole body writhe and squirm, and an obstinate urge to take revenge and to right the wrong — all these combined.”[1]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Han_%28cultural%29)

I couldn’t help but project a “Han” like psychology onto the Israelites. They had been oppressed numerous times and carried away. Their temple had been ravaged of it’s treasures and destroyed. They had suffered slavery, persecution, bloodshed of their innocent babies, exile.

But unlike Korea’s lament, the Israelites had a written history of covenant relationship with God that prescribed blessings or curses. When King Solomon dedicated the original temple to God, God appeared to him and made a covenant in 1 Kings 8. He said, “I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” (1 Kings 9:3)

But God had also said in verses 9:6-9:
“But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. And though this temple is now imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them–that is why the Lord brought all this disaster on them.'”

Although both will be extremely painful, the pain of the remorseful will be different than the pain of being mistreated. First because, in the former the person would take responsibility for his actions so it involves mind and heart and action. But the latter, they are coping with an externally imposed injustice. Secondly, because of the quality of the person oppressing. The military strategist who disregards human life can never equal the omnipotent Being who has patiently outstretched His hands in forgiveness and yearning.

So God’s supernatural favor upon the Israelites – through the greatest empire of the day, was truly merciful. Perhaps the weeping was the remorse of God’s people and the response of unworthiness in the face of God’s loving-kindness.

What I had to ponder further was, Why was this temple destroyed and rebuilt

Kinesis

Filed under: Creative Reflection,Just Writing — Annie at 12:03 pm on Friday, July 7, 2006

A friend of Shin offered me a design project this morning. Ever since the end of last quarter (June) I haven’t touched any design. It’s been on my mind though. After class each day I’ve thought about staying at the library just to flip through all the hardback, Graphis, design annuals. Just imagine, by my degree, I’ve become “certified” in a sense as a graphic designer. And yet, it’s so easy to hang it up and put it on hold. I’m dreading the stagnation of my creativity and skill and I’m frozen to do something about it. My first inclination was to decline the project. But he encouraged me that I am ready to take it on. I found that vote of confidence enough to commit to the project and see where it goes.

Shortly after, I started to ponder how a similar analogy for the cup being half empty/full is in terms of perceiving something as a beginning versus an end. Every step of progress, every graduation to the next level, even hope of something to come could be seen as a step closer to an end.

Most people seem to take the end of one level and eagerly burn towards the next. But I am surprised at how easily my momentum slows to a stop. My tendency to fall into an unmotivated state has been my bane. One of those habits that I hope never to infect Shin with because he’s been my opposite and, in fact, his drive is one of his virtues. Recently, creative projects have got my blood going. They tend to bring out my inner opponent- the one that wants to win. I think that inner opponent has been a little wimpy for awhile. A lot of times she wants to climb back in the box and stop caring about success or failure.

I remember in the 4th grade I had switched to a different elementary school for the G.A.T.E. program. I left my best friend and a school that was walking distance away and went to another school 20 minutes away. Adding to the strangeness of a new environment, I also carpooled to school in my classmates, loud, VW beetle. I didn’t realize it then, but I had a hard time adjusting. I stopped doing my homework in class. I got a pink slip everyday. I felt shame, but I learned to block out that awful, humiliating feeling of going up to Mr. Edmond’s desk to receive it. When it was time to write and bind our own stories, I wrote a autobiographical, typed, 20 page saga about how betrayed I felt when my best friend and ex-best friend became close. Why am I saying this?

I’m wondering if something happened to my spirit back then. For the sake of increasing the level of education I was receiving, I halted the progress of my emotional growth. I remember thinking there was no consequences for acting out; getting pink slips everyday, ditching orchestra because it was too easy. I exasperated my teachers. My mom was hardly involved in my schooling except for parent teacher meetings. Even then, I’m sure communicating with the teacher was hard for her. I remember once I stole a glance at my teachers comments to my mom and it read, “Fear of Failure.” I don’t know if that was true, or if I believed it so much that I became it, but thats who I was. I gave up. By the 6th grade I was having suicidal thoughts.

“Give up” followed me into adulthood. It affected my projections for the future: I used to be scared that I would be a lifeless mom that needed prozac to get through the day. It also accounted for my negative outlook on relationships, and then marriage. Actual failures, like school rejections, failed/unhealthy relationships, financial dependence on others, echoed what I already felt was my self- worth. So I learned different ways of coping; I learned that you could stay alive and inflict your body and heart until you were numb.

Then, in the middle of that chaos there was God. He started a process of healing that I can continue for the rest of my life. First, He brought a long-awaited Mentor in my life, Sandy Ro, who counseled me. Then, he affirmed the worth of my body by making me a perfect bone marrow donor. Then, he gave me a Gardener, Shin, to nurture, protect, and love me. All, uncannily in the same year.

In terms of giving up, I am newly learning the laws of kinesis: Graduation isn’t the end of school, a completed project isn’t the end of progress, marriage isn’t the end of life, birth isn’t the end of pregnancy, a child isn’t the end of youth, an adult child isn’t the end of motherhood, widowhood isn’t the end of marriage, death isn’t the end of life.

Printers and Programs

Filed under: Creative Reflection — Annie at 2:47 am on Sunday, May 28, 2006

Murphy must have been trying to print something when he wrote his famous law. Why does it seem like printers have a natural resistance to interfacing with humans? Its as though printers become indignant about receiving the project leftovers and get uppity on you.

So Friday morning I was busy finishing up my designs for the fruit package. I had asked my father in law the night before if I could print about 10 sheets from his company; his company prints labels on huge cylinder printers but they have a really nice offset printer for their color samples.

I thought it would be as simple as plugging in my external drive, and clicking “print”. But no. There are two computers for design, and there is another that is a server for the company. Here were the problems I encountered.
1) The first computer didn’t have Adobe Indesign, so I opened my files in the second computer. The second computer didn’t have my typefaces so I brought out my laptop to convert my files to pdf
2) But they wouldn’t convert without shutting down Indesign on my laptop.
3) So I had to convert to outline and try bringing it back over to computer 2 a few times, but it continued showing missing links or fonts. Maybe I made some error there that I didn’t know about, like not unlocking or ungrouping everything.
4) I tried to directly connect to the company server via ethernet cable but once I was in computer 2 the font problem was still an issue
5) I tried bringing over the font files and uploading it into computer 2 but they didn’t work, even after restarting.
6) I realized I had taken the original font files over and they were no longer on my computer so I had to restore them because when I reopened the files on my laptop, all the text was different. I was freaking out that my work was mangled for ever with no backups
7) I downloaded the fonts from the internet onto computer 2 to which it came up as being already installed.
8) BRILLIANT IDEA: open the files in Illustrator and then convert to PDF

So all I had to do was copy, paste, and save as pdf and it worked. Go figure….. copying and pasting between Adobe Suite seems about the only convenient function between programs… atleast that I know of yet.

So… *sigh* what I learned as a designer is Copy Paste simplicity of Adobe suite, and always give your print jobs atleast 3 hours.

artistic agonies

Filed under: Creative Reflection — Annie at 8:32 pm on Sunday, May 7, 2006

Working on my senior project- trying to design a character(!) and finding it so difficult… listening to Henry Mancini’s “Love Story” and feeling tragic, while flipping through warner brothers book of character designs and wondering what the heck made these creatures come to life. In the meanwhile the kitchen is steaming with the scent of chicken soup. I’m grateful to Shin for gutting them this time. The last time I bought a whole chicken and pulled my hand out of its cavern I felt faint. oh how long does chicken soup take to cook? I’m online to find precisely that info… good luck to all

Ashes and Snow

Filed under: Creative Reflection — Annie at 12:28 am on Tuesday, April 25, 2006

As I stepped across the bridge over PCH, I was unprepared for the architecture of the Gregory Colbert’s “Ashes and Snow” exhibit at the Santa Monica Pier. The bold, external appearance gave me presumptions about how the inside would be, but it turned out to be surprising and ironic, in light of the message it carried on the inside.

The experience was the opposite of industrial. Instead, it was natural and meditative. The music was relaxing, with elements of soothing voices, water sounds, and rhythms. All the portraits were of people in a meditative state, with eyes and face emanating peace. The architecture and lighting was uncomplicated. It was a Japanese rock-garden inspired zen place with wooden floorboards and rocks lining the sides. Rather than being a single, large room, the viewers were directed in a flow from the start to the end. The lighting in the space was soft and dim to accentuate the lights and darks of the hanging photographs on the handmade papers; it brought out the soft gradations in the images, the way candlelight complements the skin and captures the shine in the eyes.

The compositions of the photos were simple. Colbert emphasized the beauty of the subject by using simple layouts, emphasizing form, and accenting the light-dark contrast. The textures in the photos were generally the natural patterns that emerged, like the patterns on the surface of water, or the wrinkles of elephant skin.

The exhibit was divided into three sets. Each set contained a row of images that corresponded with a film of the same images. The film proved to any skeptics that the images weren’t manipulated. The movie also took the images and explained the context and story.

The exhibit was about the relationships between humans and animals. I thought he expressed that in several ways- the first way I noted was through repetition, for example, he had a portrait of an elderly lady, holding a young girl, who was holding a bobcat wrapped in cloth. It was as though he was saying this was a family line and there was little distinction between the generation of humans and animals. Second, he created a relationship through scale; human besides animals, like a man swimming with the great whales, or a girl lying on the enormous legs of the elephant. Third, through peaceful coexistence; in a film, he shows a cheetah, humans, and small furry animals and they are all coexisting together above and in the water without hierarchy or food chain.

I found that I could only willingly partake of this world if I practiced patience and inner stillness. Everything was slow and calming. But there was a point during a film that I looked around and realized where I actually was. That’s when I had a greater appreciation for the architecture because Shigeru Ban, created a peaceful sanctuary out of recycled, industrial elements. They house an unbelievably natural world. That is a genius relationship.

I can’t see myself exhibiting work there, but I learned how the architecture can largely add to the context of my work.

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