Thursday, February 18, 2016

On Community - Letter to my Boxers

Favela in Rio, Brazil
To the Boxing Club,

It's that time again I wrote a letter. Recently, most of my posts have been legally related; so, it's time to write a letter of encouragement.

Oh yesterday, I went into the ring with a heavier guy. It was just two rounds of sparring. Since I haven't been in awhile, I was tense to start with but moved better with time. My boxing coach, in the corner, was telling me how to gain advantage by taking space.

Did I mention my opponent was heavier? I didn't get hit a lot, but I certainly felt it when I did. 

I kept hitting my opponent near the stomach, but because he was heavier, it didn't look like it had much of an effect. But I remember what one of my coaches once told me, "All those small punches sting and add up."

At the end of the match, I did end up getting a strong, hook on the guy's head. He shook his head. Looked like it hurt.

Regarding boxing and boxers, let me also, tell you what happened this week. I had dinner with one of our boxers - which I had a falling out with awhile back. We ate at a Japanese ramen place called Shin-Sen-Gumi. The place reminds me of some of joints in Tokyo I ate at, except there's more space.

We ordered ramen noodles, which is cooked in pork broth - which takes the restaurant at least eight hours to make. The noodles are freshly made, and one of my favorite foods is freshly made noodles, regardless if its Italian or Asian ones. Nothing beats homemade noodles. Dry pasta can't compare.

I have to admit, it was nice making amends again. While we were there, however, they told me not to wish one of the other boxers a happy birthday because of the attention it would draw. 

But if you know me by now, I sometimes just sort of do what I like. So, I told the staff it was his birthday, and they brought ice cream with a candle in it, which was surrounded by clouds of whip cream. The whole restaurant sang happy birthday, and birthday boy looked happy. And I was happy, seeing him happy.

So, the time to rebuild community has started. One of the three of you, has come back. And that's really made me happy too.

The whole incident reminded me of several verses in scripture. Those verses state: "Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more . . ." (Heb. 10:24-25)

In short, the verses mean that we're not to only think of ourselves and our needs but to think of others too and to show that others are important in our lives and "to do good" for them (instead of thinking of and taking advantage of people). Not only should we meet, but we must encourage one another. 

Growing up with Korean tiger parents, encouragement with words doesn't coming naturally to me. And I think the English word for encouragement isn't necessarily what it meant when the piece of scripture was written. 

The Book of Hebrews was written in the ancient Greek. The Greek word for encouragement is paraklésis. So, let's break that down. It's two words there combined into one. The first word is para; the second one is klésis.

Para is the same word as the modern English prefix of para, such as in paranormal. Para means besides or near. Klésis means summon or calling. Hence, the literal translation of paraklésis means to be summoned besides [the person]. 

In other words, to encourage someone, means you are called to be beside that person. So, that calling is driven by two forces: the person that is calling you and you. And because it's a calling, it means that the need and what is required is highly contextual to the individual and you. Therefore, the way encouragement plays out changes with every situation. Therefore, it's not one size fit all. The same words are not needed by everyone.

Another way to put it, is that people are called to encourage in different ways. Some are good at giving. Some are good at encouraging with words. Some are good at just being there. But in general, the principle is that we are to take what we're already good at, and use it for the good of those who need it at the time. And that's not just a nice thing to do, it's a calling, a higher command.

My favorite translation of paraklésis is the "legal advocate" that's beside you. For me and other counselors, we should understand that the duty to counsel someone in need really is a calling, where we are held accountable by a higher power to "encourage" our client, and because of our encouragement, our client is stronger and a better person. And the person encouraged can answer in God's court with a clean conscience because of our encouragement. (Imagine a world - where lawyers actually understood their duty to be this. It'd be much better for the profession.)

Once again, not everyone is a legal counselor. But we are all designed to encourage. Even my cat Jeh Pan (Trial) understands this, and reminds my mother she's loved every morning. Believe me, it brings much joy and light to our house.

That's it for now. It's going to take time to rebuild a community lost. Hope to write to you more throughout the year.



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