Thursday, February 7, 2019

Cheonggyecheon Stream At Night

The first time I visited Seoul, I fell in love with the Cheonggyecheon Stream. Tumbling through the city center, this sweet sliver of water was once the place where washerwomen carried the royal laundry from the palace and scrubbed linens in the sunshine while their children splashed and played nearby. Over the centuries, as a busy city grew up around it, the little stream suffered, struggled .and died. By the twentieth century, it was boarded over and lay forgotten beneath the city streets.

I’m lucky. I’ve been able to travel around my country and around the world more than I ever dreamed I would. This has been a special gift and I appreciate every minute of my trips, including this current visit to Seoul, South Korea.

Around the turn of the millennium, the Cheonggyecheon was rediscovered and restored. It now runs freely from its source, first through the concrete surround of a waterside park, and eventually coursing along a strip of relatively untamed nature, right through the heart of Seoul.

I’m especially fortunate that I travel not as a tourist. I know the people who live in the countries I visit. I eat at their tables, I sleep under their roofs, and I see them live their day-to-day lives. We talk about what matters - our hopes and dreams, our pain and fears.

And along the way, I have gathered up a clear picture of all these different people, living their different lives all across the globe. I see what unites us.

I love the Cheonggyecheon.


We all just want to be loved.

It’s that simple and that profound. We want to be supported and encouraged and valued for who we are. As we face the challenges that this world throws at all of us, we want people to have our backs. We want to be known and understood. We want the people in our lives to choose us again and again. We want to feel not alone. We like material comforts too, for sure, but what we ache for most is the comfort of someone’s arms, someone’s smile, someone’s kindness, someone’s respect.

What we all want is love.

And when my daughter, her boyfriend, and I stopped in for some shopping at the nearby bookstore, even though it was after dark and we were on our way to dinner, I asked if we could please stop by the stream for a quick visit.

They said yes. And I’m glad that they did. 

So today and every day, I challenge myself to say yes to love. Maybe you would like to challenge yourself too.

And I think we will all be glad that we did.

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A full accounting of my trip to Seoul:


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