My ties with the Roman Catholic Church began at an early age. I was baptized at six years old without really knowing what was happening. From then on, I attended Sunday school for about a year in Korea, and went to church every Sunday during the six years I lived in the United States.
I did not listen to the sermons and I did not exactly believe in “God,” but I liked the music and it felt nice to take the chance to pray for something I wanted. I also enjoyed participating in church activities, such as the yearly Christmas parties. In other words, during all those years, church and religion were nothing more than just a Sunday routine and a means to wish for something I wanted.
As though to show the sign of my “un-religiousness,” I stopped going to church altogether when I came back to Korea. Save for mumbling quick prayers in dire times, I completely forgot everything about church, even the songs I had liked so much.
Then, in the summer of 2011, I suddenly decided to start going to church again just to give a change to my life, and joined the youth band, because I had always been involved in a musical activity up until college and I wanted to keep it that way.
Taking part in the band with other members whose ages ranged from my age to the early 30s and actually leading them as the band leader was an eye opener for me in several ways. A musical theatre actor who has experienced a fellow actress taking her own life, a section head of Nike Golf whose first baby was aborted, a student who is my age but still studying for the college entrance exam at her own pace and rejecting admissions to schools other than her dream school, a leader of an indie band, an architectural planner, a young woman caught in a web between her father’s frail health and her approaching wedding day and many more people have helped me break down the wall of familiarity, ease, and blindness.
Up until then, my perspectives and understanding had been confined to the small world I knew of diligent and ambitious students of the middle class or higher and adults who were well off and had respectable jobs. Having grown up in a relatively stable and caring family with no big drama or incidents, I had unknowingly been unaware of the other 99 percent of the possibilities of life. Suddenly finding myself in the other 99 percent, however, I was forced to un-build my understanding of the courses of one’s life and consider what I had to say in or how to accept certain situations.
In addition, the stories that members had to tell about their diverse backgrounds and jobs made them seem like an endless source of life lessons and various stories about “the real world.” Some of these stories overlapped with what I had learned from my parents and former teachers and some gave different perspectives on the same matter, but often times, I learned about different aspects that I had not encountered before. Due to all of this, I feel like I have been able to construct a broader understanding of people and society, establish principles and philosophies to live by, and also afford a more diverse set of eyes with which to accept the place I am in. Whatever the medium, I highly recommend finding and doing something that can enable you to consider and embrace even the uncharted parts of life.