Mother of Peace: Episode 03

Mother of Peace: And God Shall Wipe Away All Tears from Their Eyes
A Memoir by Hak Ja Han Moon
Chapter 1: My Cherished Lifelong Wish, pg 06-10

Thank you! Mother, please take care of everything!

Moon, moon, bright moon, the moon 
with which Lee Tae-baek used to play, 
Far away on that moon,
there is a cinnamon tree.
I cut it down with a jade axe 
and trimmed it with a gold axe,
To build a small cottage
where I attend my mother and father. 
I want to live with them forever;
I want to live with them forever.

While laden with sadness, this traditional Korean song also stirs and uplifts the heart. The wish to live forever with one’s mother and father conveys the heart of filial piety. We are orphans, far from the Heavenly Parent whom we have lost, and we have to find our True Parents and our original homeland. Nothing leads to greater happiness than being able to attend the beloved parents for whom we long, be it in a palace or a small hut.

Everything and everyone loves the sun. Only with the sun can life flourish. The moon, on the other hand, bestows something else. The sun represents splendor, the moon tranquility. When people are far from home, they tend to think about their hometown and long for their parents while looking at the moon, not at the sun. I have fond memories of gazing at the moon together with my husband. We watched it with many members during the Korean Chuseok harvest festival, and at the first full moon of the new year. Nonetheless, those moments were rare. My husband and I could not immerse ourselves in such tranquility.

“After this work is done …,” my husband would always say, and so would I: “After this work is finished and we have a bit of free time, we’ll be able to take a break.” Over our years of ministry, one would think there would have been brief moments to relax after completing an urgent task. But for us, free time never materialized. Spurred on by the thought of my grandmother Jo crying “Mansei!” for the independence and salvation of our nation, I burned with a youthful passion for saving humanity and building a peaceful world.

I have always held high the banner of peace, inheriting the March First Independence Movement’s noble spirit of non-violence and self-determination. Because I lived with this sense of urgency, I found myself accomplishing what I would never have imagined possible. Throughout my life, I have done my utmost to fulfill all the tasks that have come to me. I have striven to dedicate myself to living for the sake of others with one heart and one will. I have never given my body the rest it needs. Many were the times I neglected to eat or sleep.

* * *

My husband, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, who is often known as Father Moon, was the same. He was born with a strong physique, and had he taken better care of his health, he would have had more time to work for a better world. But he too followed God’s will with unflinching devotion, and this damaged his health, ultimately to the point of no return. Up to four or five years before his ascension in 2012, he was in continual motion, living each day as if it were a thousand years. His work was strenuous, both physically and spiritually. For example, he often spent entire nights in a small fishing boat on rough seas. He did this for the sake of others, setting an example for our Ocean Church members as well as leaders who accompanied him. He wanted to help them cultivate patience and the spirit to overcome hardship.

Father Moon constantly traveled between continents, and it usually was between east and west, which takes a much greater toll than traveling between north and south. Considering his age, he traveled far too often between Korea and the United States. He should have limited such trips to once every two to three years, but he would not consider it. The year before his passing at age 92, he traveled between Korea and America at least eight times. This was a complete self-sacrifice, offered solely for God and humankind.

Father Moon’s daily schedule itself was grueling. Every morning he would rise at 3:00 a.m., exercise, pray, and study. At 5:00 a.m. he led hoondokhae, which means “gathering to read and learn,” with followers. It was a time of devotional scripture reading, prayer, and instruction. During hoondokhae, my husband had so much to share that it was not uncommon for it to continue for up to 10 hours, skipping breakfast and lunch. No sooner would he conclude the session than he would grab a quick bite and depart to visit a movement project. In the final years, while in Korea, he would travel by helicopter to Geomun Island or Yeosu, where we were developing fishing, recreational, and educational facilities.

* * *

Into his seventies, Father Moon could handle this physically, but in his last decade it would wear him out, and he would end up with a cold or worse. Of course he would ignore the symptoms. And then, during the summer of 2012, he caught a deep chest cold that was particularly alarming. We should have gone to the hospital immediately, but he kept postponing it, saying over and over, “We can go after this is done.” Eventually, the decision was non-negotiable; he had to go to the hospital. His body was already in a very fragile state. He was hospitalized for a short time, but as soon as his medical examinations were finished, he stubbornly insisted on being discharged. We tried to persuade him to stay longer, but he wouldn’t listen.

“I still have a lot of work to do; I can’t just sit here in the hospital!” he said, scolding the people who advised him to stay. There was no choice but to discharge him. That was August 12, 2012. We arrived home, and all of a sudden he said, “I want to have breakfast sitting opposite you, Omma.” The members who heard this weren’t sure they heard him right, because I always sat next to my husband during meals, not facing him. And then, when the food was served, my husband seemed uninterested in eating. He just gazed at me as if he were trying to engrave my face in his heart. I smiled and placed a spoon in his hand and something from the side dishes on his plate. “These vegetables are delicious, so take your time to eat,” I said. 

The next day, the sun was unusually strong, even for mid-summer. In the oppressive heat, Father Moon toured parts of our Cheonwon complex on the shores of Cheongpyeong Lake, accompanied by an oxygen tank larger than himself. Upon his return to our home, Cheon Jeong Gung, he asked me to bring a voice recorder. With the recorder in his hand, he fell into deep thought for 10 minutes, and then little by little, began recording his thoughts.

He stated that when we transcend the history of the Fall and return to the original Garden of Eden, following only God, we can then move in the direction of the kingdom of heaven. He also proclaimed that we can restore nations through fulfilling the mission of guiding our tribes. It was a soliloquy and prayer that embraced the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega. “Everything has been accomplished! I offer everything to Heaven,” he said in closing. “Everything has been brought to its consummation, completion, and conclusion.”

* * *

This turned out to be True Father’s final prayer. With it, he brought his life to a close. Breathing with some difficulty for a moment, he squeezed my hand tightly. “Mother, thank you! Mother, please take care of everything. I’m so sorry and I’m truly grateful,” he said, struggling to get the words out. Again and again he said those same words. I held his hand more and more firmly, and with warm words and loving eyes, holding back the tears, I reassured him that everything would be all right. “Don’t worry about anything.”

On September 3, 2012, my husband, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, ascended into God’s embrace. He was 93 years old, by the Korean way of counting, and was laid to rest in the Bonhyangwon, which means the garden in the original hometown, beside a pond on Mount Cheonseong. I have often slipped into deep thought gazing at the moon rising above Mount Cheonseong. “I cut it down with a jade axe and trimmed it with a gold axe, to build a small cottage where I attend my mother and father. I want to live with them forever.” I repeat this poem to myself, over and over.

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