Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The People At Mu Sang Sa

There were so many great people at Mu Sang Sa. I feel such a connection with the people that I sit retreat with. As with Hwa Gye Sa, there was someone from the Cambridge Zen Center sitting at Mu Sang Sa.
This is Barbara, the director of CZC. She sat the whole three months!
These two where my kitchen buddies. We got to do the breakfast dishes every morning and then cut up vegetables for lunch and dinner. That is Inn on the right. She's from Singapore. Singapore was very well represented at MSS. I believe that is Jae Un on the left, though I can't find my little book with everyone's name in it. She's from Korea and would help translate in the kitchen. It was a truly international scene in there. The Kitchen Master was Chinese, one of the other helpers was Hungarian and the Kitchen Lady, also known as Bosal Nim (translation: boddhisatva person) was Korean. Not everyone spoke Korean or English but enough people spoke both that someone would always translate.
While we were taking this picture, Barbara popped out of her window to take a picture of us.
Isn't she cute?Notice the laundry hanging up? Laundry was a huge obsession with everyone. We only had access to the washing machines once a week and when things took up to four days to dry, there was a lot of strategic handwashing of clothes.
This Sun Jae. She's a kindergarten teacher in Seoul. She sat next to me at formal meals and helped me remember which bowl was which.Here we have another Chee Song. He was one of a number of people who, when greeted in Korean, responded in perfect English with "Yeeeahh, I'm Chinese." I actually ran into him at Hwa Gye Sa and we both came down to MSS on the same day.

Being a monastery, there were, of course, lots of monks and nuns. In Korea, monks and nuns are both refered to as Sunims. Sunim is a contraction of the words Sungha (congregation) and Nim (person). They are some of the sweetest, kindest people you ever want to meet. This is Myung Hwa Sunim. She is from Poland orginally.I can't remember the names of these Sunims but the one on the right was the Financial Director of the monastery and the one on the left was the Work Master.This is Kwan Haeng Sunim. He is from Cambridge originally! He was the House Master and what a thankless job that was. I know those of us in my room pestered him plenty!This is Myung Haeng Sunim. He was the Head Monk for the retreat. Speaking of thankless jobs, imagine taking care of 40+ people that are doing something that is both emotionally and physically demanding and doing it with a smile on your face. I hope that I can go to MSS again sometime and sit longer. I was glad to go when I did, though. They were just getting into the hottest part of the summer and I was ready find some place with air conditioning. I went back to HGS for the night then to the airport the next day. My flight to San Francisco was uneventful but I had an eleven hour layover there. Fortunately, Lea and her husband carried me off for a few hours for a snooze at their house.

It was a good thing I got that rest. I took the red-eye to Chicago then got stuck there for five hours. I also got seperated from my bag in the cross country flight. It was so full of dirty laundry that I was pretty sure it would crawl home by itself. Fortunately, when I got to Boston, there it was. I treated myself to a taxi home and promptly collapsed!

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