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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Plans for the future: university car ride

We sat in the back of the university car talking. Driver was taking us from the city of Daejon to the Seoul Kimpo International Airport. We were on our way to see off our mentor. He and his wife were leaving Korea returning to the USA for a one year furlough in North Carolina.

We sat in the back going over a future dream, sharing about how literature translation works, how that in order to translate a work of literature the person translating must create a new work of literature, and that work is the translation. Does the original work survive in the mother tongue? Does the translation mirror correctly the meaning of the words in the original. The discussion of how to translate poetry, fiction, even the Christian Holy Bible. How does translation work? What is lost in translation? What is added? Who decides nuances among the many choices of meaning. Then once that discussion was over and we were still at least two hours from the airport, we talked about writing a book together. A book for teaching Literature of the Bible.  A comparative literary study of the Bible for speakers of English and Korean. We dreamed big. We had shared the struggle to understand each other for nine years, since our first meeting in our mentor's office at the university where you were a student and I was an instructor. You a classical Korean literature major and I an English teacher of drama, theater, speech, academic writing, composition, and conversation. And after our first meeting, something flickered between us in recognitiion of soul, and soon we were living together, studying together, sharing our meals day by day, and dreaming together. And this summer day, we were both finished with our master's degrees. We were now able to look ahead, you toward a doctoral program, and me? I wanted to return to a dream I had long before. Creative writing. Song composition, Publishing my literary work. And yet, today, sitting side by side in the back seat of the university car, I felt something else. I wanted to create this book with you. To write about how to study the Bible in English and Korean, to compare translation, to look at Hebrew and Greek meaning in holy scripture. And I felt we both had a dream of growing together in the faith we held in Christ. It was a good dream. And then it happened. The bottom fell out of our dream and one of us was swept away from this world. One of us remained. Still remains. Wondering why. Wondering why you left so early; wondering why I'm still here. Untranslated longings finally pushing their way up through the soil of soul into the light of recognition. I lost part of my soul when you left. I have grieved ever since, and now, the grief tries to find meaning through the music of love. Love lost.

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