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30 October 2012

“Come Empty, Return Empty.” An Essay from a Travelling Nun.


Note: Sister asked us not to put her name. She may be shy but I think she is just humble.  Yes, she is real and not fictional. She is a former student of mine)

One of the happiest things that can happen to us is to have a job that we really love. Most people work to earn money. Money is important but it is not the sum of all. It is unfortunate if making money is the only benefit that we get from a job. We must enjoy our work. Even though a person makes much money, if his job is not rewarding, it is not a good job. The late Steve Jobs said, "Do what you love.” I think that a good job should have a proper balance of enjoyment and responsibility. Therefore, we have to be honest to ourselves. What do we really like? What is it that makes our lives worth living? If I could choose another profession, I would want to be a travel writer, describing my own experiences in many countries that I would visit. 

First, I love to travel. Every year, I go to the countryside on foot with just my backpack. Along the way, I would not only meet people but also see beautiful scenery. I also learn about history, culture and the unique characteristics of different places. However, the most important thing of all is discovering who I am. I can gather my thoughts and I meditate deeply during my trip. I get to know more about myself and I can feel the Providence of God through my travels. Most of all, I want to see the world that God created as much as He allows me. When God created the world, God saw how good it was. I also want to see and know more about the world. I would like to learn through various experiences. As we live, we cannot do everything, and we cannot always learn all from experiences. Nevertheless, I want to learn as much as possible from firsthand experience because we cannot always rely on the information that we gain from books or others sources. Going on a journey is the best way to learn about real life.

Likewise, I want to share my experiences to others by writing. I believe that the more I share my experiences, the more abundant blessings I receive. Reading articles based on another person’s experiences helps me gain information. I wrote about my experiences for a magazine once a month for six years when I was still in Korea. I received feedback from some readers. I feel so happy whenever I am able to express my thoughts, feelings and wishes through writing. Writing is one of the most remarkable abilities that humans have even though we cannot always fully verbalize our thoughts and feelings through writing. Whenever I feel limited by my ability to write, I am challenged to try even harder and improve my writing skills. I may not be an expert in literature and I did not have any formal training in writing but I will continue to write. If I come across good articles, poems and novels during my journey, I will even try to translate these texts from English to Korean.

Lastly, I pursue freedom like the wind blowing, a river running and the clouds drifting in the sky. If I live a life burdened by possession, physically leaving is meaningless. It does not mean freedom. Based on my experience, when I have become too comfortable in a place or I have fostered closer relationship with certain individuals, I tend to be too attached that I forget my spiritual goals. I do not want my ambitions to control me. Attachment brings forth selfish desires so leaving is important. I know all things eventually pass. As I go on a trip, I reconnect with myself and then I can train myself to veer away from selfishness. Our Korean ancestors once said, “Come empty, return empty.” I agree. Travel helps clear my mind. Having a healthy mind is just as important as making money.

Everyone has unique qualities, which distinguish one person from another.  If we enjoy doing what we want, we can develop our potentials to the fullest. We must become the person that we aspire to be, and we have to learn about life through our occupation. This is one of the ways of loving ourselves, and honoring God. 

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