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To Know is to Jeong

To Know is to Jeong 1080 1350 Nicole

Today is Clark’s Homecoming Day.

 On January 17, 2006, we brought 6-month-old baby Clarkah from the other side of the world to inhabit our lives and change us forever. We are his and he is ours – with every ounce of our being.

Today, I learned about the Korean concept of Jeong. In the words of Grace Ji-Sun Kim,

Jeong . . . is part of what gives joy, attachment, and meaning . . . . [it is] difficult to translate into English, but it can be understood, simply, as love.”

Grace Ji-Sun Kim, “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Jeong,” Sojourners. February, 2019.

According to the  Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (h/t, Greer for this bit of linguistic anthropology), our perspective is limited by the language we speak. That is, the symbols that are used by one’s language frame how the communicator perceives that which is designated. So, the word “love” in English is often perceived in other languages by multiple words.

In Korean, jeong

“captures the essence of love and affection . . . that is sticky and inseparable, like honey between our fingers. This sticky kind of love is difficult to untangle or separate oneself from, and thus makes us stay connected to one another . . . . The experience of jeong flows out of you to the other to cause connectedness, affection and love. There is no logical reason or validation of why one experience jeong; it just happens.”

Exactly.

Clark happened. Clark happened to me. I am his and he is mine, like honey – it sticks to everything, everywhere – you can’t get rid of it!

Clark is entirely Korean and absolutely American. He is Kang Jee Sung and Snyder Clark Howard. I love that I love him and we love in the Korean sense of the word: tough to untangle or separate, making us connected in ways that, well, cannot really be communicated with any words – no matter the language!

Still, it is because of Clark that I know how to love as never before – to love in Korean.

Happy Homecoming Day, my son!

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About the author

Nicole

Nicole Oliver Snyder’s expertise lies in the areas of leadership, gender issues, and mindfulness practice as it affects both. Leadership, particularly in an urban setting, requires community-relations skills, and an ability to clearly convey justice issues as they relate to felt, spiritual ones. Dr. Snyder is author of Leading Together: Mindfulness and the Gender Neutral Zone, and specializes in teaching mindfulness leadership development, formative spirituality, counseling, and Old Testament theology (emphasis on justice issues). She has a diverse background in international community-relations work combined with volunteer work in multi-ethnic communities, and with local institutions. She is an ordained Clergy; holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies, w/Education Certificate, an MA-Counseling, MDiv Equiv., holds a Doctor of Ministry and Advanced Certification in Formative Spiritual Direction, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (MI).