Life, as for me, is a tormenting issue that I grapple with almost every day; yet it is something that we have to celebrate because it is given by God no matter how vulnerable it may be.
In the midst of a daily life reflection, one news reached me and pierced my usual mind even more deeply and sharply. That is news of a dear man's death. Yesterday, Rev. Syngman Rhee, a great man of God, a very highly respected minister, teacher, and community leader, passed away at the age of 83; it may be said that he lived long enough from a perspective of ordinary people. Nonetheless his death was unexpected. Until a month ago or so, he had well maintained his health and had been very active in his work as usual.
Rev. Rhee was an icon of godly grief that he took with him in his entire life, being a refugee of North Korea, fleeing to South because of the Korean War, leaving his parents and sisters in North, expecting to meet them again soon. But that hope never came true except for a short visit with his sisters in North. He came to America to study and spent his entire life doing ministry at various levels. His great exemplary works and sacrifices for reconciliation of the two states in Korea won't go in passing. While my heart collapses remembering all good works of him, I won't forget how much God loved him.
Because of many good works he had done with many individuals, communities, and denominations in the U.S and globally, he pulled with him lots of memories and great news about him; so much so there are great letters, photos, tributes, and prayers for him that are bombarding social media and off-line channels that I am part of.
As aftermath of all of these, one light-bulb thought came to my mind: death is a moment of high profile. One's life is reflected upon and appreciated by other people. High profile is not made by the person at death. An irony is that we cannot make our own high profile at such a time. We are at the mercy of others at that point.
There is another moment of high profile in our lives. That is a moment of birth. A person's birth, even though the person at birth does not know what is going on with him or her, should be known to as many people as possible and should be celebrated because he or she is a gift of God. Even so lowly a birth must be well taken care of with big news and celebration, as Jesus in Luke is born with humility and yet with honor and blessings because of God's call. All births are to be holy and highly praised. This is a great moment of high profile.
Otherwise, I would say we have to maintain a low profile in between those two moments of high profile: birth and death. Both birth and death are not within our control. This means we are incapable of making a conscious high profile for ourselves. Other people can!
While we are alive in between these two moments, we are faced with lots of choices we should make. We all go through, somehow to a different degree, ups and downs, and turns and twists in our lives. We can make a high profile since we are very conscious of what we are doing. But we don't need to do so; we shouldn't aggrandize ourselves or praise our own works.
Whether we did a good job or not in our entire life, there will be a time of high profile that comes only at one's death or after that.