Anglican Morning Devotion, 10 April 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
(from Logos of St. Andrew, Winter 2004)
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
This is the Story of an Old farmer who lived in Korea whose name was Kim. Everyday of his life was filled with working with the soil, in farming and nurturing the seedling rice plants.
He was a simple and honest man, and he loved his Korean homeland. He loved the mist covered mountain slopes, the green rice paddies, and the sycamore trees that lined his fields. He loved the morning calm with their gentle breezes laden with scents of flowers and spices from the East. He loved the azure blue skies whose only blemish were the white puffy clouds that accented the sky’s purity here and there. He loved his Korean friends and neighbors whose strong faces were lined with wrinkles from hard labors. He loved the sweet voices of the children playing along the fields, and their evidence of happy and pure love of life. They reminded him of his own youth when he ran like a deer on the slopes and beautiful mountains surrounding his homeland.
Sometimes, he would take a handful of soil in his hand and let it gently flow through his fingers.
As he began to be very old, his hands began to lose their strength. Arthritis made it difficult for him to farm as he had done when younger. He could barely walk, and felt the slow deliberate pains of age.
When the bell tolled and summoned his departure from this life, the old man regretted having to leave his beautiful homeland.
As he was lying on his death bed, his sons and daughters were gathered round, weeping and mourning.
He asked them to carry him outside and lay him upon the green earth of Korea.
They objected, but he insisted continually. Finally, they relented and carried him outside and lay his tired old body upon the Korean sod. The old man said. I love Korea and do not want to leave it. But if I must go, I will take Korea with me.
They noticed his hands drop to the soil as he grasped a handful of Korean dirt. At that moment, the old man died. The old man found himself on a beautiful tree lined avenue leading up to the Pearly Gates of Heaven.
He went up to the gate and boldly knocked on the door. The gate opened and the Lord came out and greeted Kim Papasan.
The Lord then said, “Welcome, Father Kim, to Heaven. Please come inside.” But as Father Kim began to move toward the gate, the Lord asked, “Mr. Kim, what do you have in your hand?”
Mr. Kim answered, “It is soil from my blessed homeland of Korea.”
The Lord said, “I am sorry, Father Kim, but you cannot bring anything of the world into Heaven.”
Kim Papasan said, “If I cannot bring dirt from Korea into heaven, I shall not go in.” So, he sat down beside the great wall of heaven.
After three days, the Lord came out in the form of an angel. He put his arms around Father Kim and said, “Father Kim, please come inside. You are so lonely out here. Just release the dirt and come inside.” But Mr. Kim refused and remained outside the wall.
After a few more days, as the winter winds began to blow, the Lord came out in the form of a child.
The child sat down beside Mr. Kim and begged him to come inside. Kim Papasan looked into the innocent and happy eyes of the child which was the Lord. He looked at his own old body – his bent legs, his withered arms, his worn clothes. He felt the pain of arthritis in his hands. He slowly stood up and felt his grip weakening. The dirt of Korea began to slip through his weary old fingers and fall to the ground. But the old man did not notice. He took the hand of the child which was the Lord and began to walk into the gates of heaven.
When he had entered the gates, Kim Papasan, was amazed to see all of his beautiful Korea in heaven, but even more perfect than ever before. The beautiful mountains were richly covered now with trees. The great Han River flowed profusely with water pure and glistening, and the sweet and beautiful faces of his friends and family all around.
And he wondered why he ever hesitated to come into Heaven when the Lord invited.
“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38)