|The Wedding of Shawn Morrissey and Kim Yu-mi
on Sunday April 22nd, 2007
at the Freedom Center Wedding Hall, Mt. Nam-san, Seoul
Shawn James Morrissey is Founder & President of the Korea Mountaineering League (an NGO devoted to the restoration and
preservation of Korea's alpine ecology) and a published writer of poetry and prose on Korea's beautiful and sacred mountains.
A native of Newfoundland, Canada, he has found a new home in Korea for the past six years and is out on the peaks every
chance he can get. He's been my friend for more than a year, occasionally sharing adventurous Sanshin-hunting expeditions
(and also our mutual love of classic rock-and-roll & blues) with me. He married the lovely and talented (designer) Kim Yu-mi in
2006, and got around to holding a modern-Korean-style wedding on this fine mid-spring day. His sister Cynthia flew over to
represent his side of the family, and did so very well. My wife Lourdes (above right) took almost all these photos.
The unusual aspect is that they invited me to be the Jurye [Chief Officiant], a position usually going to a senior and highly-
respected member of the community who is somehow involved with the life of the bride or groom and/or their parents, such
as a senior political leader, professor, judge, minister, company chairman or etc (usually a secular figure, in Korea). This is
the first time I was ever asked to perform this role, and took it as a high honor and privilege to be able to do this for our good
friends. It was quite a challenge to prepare for my main duty, to write and deliver a 10-minute speech that would properly
commemorate their wedding -- attempting to strike the right note, be meaningful without getting pompous or maudlin, be
amusing without being silly and disrespectful of the occasion, be dignified but still friendly -- and keep it simple enough to be
translated to the mostly-Korean audience in a way they could appreciate. What I came up with was simultaneously-translated
into Korean for the benefit of Yu-mi's friends and family by Shawn's oldest friend in Korea, 'Shane' Chung (above right).
Following this point in between the photos (which are pretty much self-explanatory) will be the text of the
speech I made, to make this page a permanent online memorial of their wedding, as a further gift to them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here today to celebrate the Matrimony of these two
excellent people, Shawn Morrissey and Kim Yu-mi. I think of them as good friends of mine, and I
am filled with happiness today, that they are publicly pledging their hearts and their lives together.
Shawn is the devoted lover of the mountains, and here in Korea there are many old stories of husband-and-wife pairs of
sacred peaks, pairs of mountain-spirits. They are examples of complementary harmony, pairs of eum-yang energy [ki]
that together create something much more meaningful than either of them would be separately.
That’s what a good marriage is like, individual man and woman increasing their complementary energies, to build a family
unit that is much better than either of them would be alone. Korea’s beautiful and spiritual mountains can teach us a lot about
this, the way that all life is inter-connected, and the way that Love can heal the empty feelings inside us that cause us suffering.
I'm sure that everyone here will join me in wishing them well, because we know that marriage is a great
adventure, with both many joys and many sorrows, and plenty of surprises along the way.
You know, it is often said that a woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't – he’s still the
same adjeoshi (ordinary middle-aged man). And a man marries a woman expecting that she won't change,
but she does – the sweet innocent agashi (nice pretty girl) transforms into an adjumah (bulldog-ish housewife)!!!
I believe that true love is built up step-by-step in a marriage when the couple accepts both of these inevitable
factors of their spouse’s personality, the parts that change and the parts that don't change.
Married Love means that we cherish both of these. It is constructed when you both realize and accept that your
union is “a work-in-progress, with a lifetime contract to finish it”. Just commit to keep working on it, forever.
Some people say that "you have two choices in life: You can stay single and be miserable, or get married and wish
you were dead." But I can tell you from my own experience, it doesn't have to be that way. Clear communication,
cherishing your differences and taking full responsibility as partners can lead you to a happy life together.
Conflict is not to be feared, but should be used as a bridge to greater maturity, understanding and
commitment. Leo Tolstoy famously said that “What counts in making a happy marriage is not so
much how compatible you are, but how you deal with your incompatibility.”
And that is even much more true with international marriage, crossing cultural boundaries, then
with matches between people of the same background. Since I've had an international marriage
for a long time, people always ask me about that. They wonder, isn't it uncomfortable?
I always tell them, yes in fact, it's less comfortable – but it's much more interesting. Dealing with those cross-cultural issues
every day keeps me awake and interested; international marriage is never dull. So maybe you have a choice: you can
marry somebody very similar to you and it will be comfortable, but become boring. Or you can try an inter-cultural marriage
and it will be unsettled, with many issues you have to work through, with more conflict, but it will really be interesting!
|I think that Shawn and Yu-mi here have made the correct choice!
Marriage is your best chance, and maybe your last chance, to grow up. Whenever you
look at those rings you just put on your fingers, take it as an opportunity to remember
that it’s not your love that sustains the marriage, but the marriage that sustains your love.
You can do this if you deeply understand that your marriage must be totally committed, it
must be permanent, and it must be equal and fair. These principles can be the needles with
which you sew yourselves together through the years, with hundreds of tiny loving threads.
|Woody Allen said that “90% of life is just showing up” -- I've always found that to be true.
Show up for each other.
|There, I have said too much, more than anyone wants to hear.
Let me just lead everyone here in Congratulating this fine couple,
and wishing them every possible happiness for the rest of their lives!
|Life turns out to be pretty hard for most of us, always harder than you think it's going to be.
Life throws a lot of unexpected problems at you, disasters when you least expect them.
Friedrich Nietzsche asked, “What else is Love, but understanding & rejoicing
in the fact that another person lives and experiences otherwise than we do?
|Always remember that every storm passes in its time,
and you'll be just fine in the long run if you will just “be there for each other”.
Just “show up”, with your hearts open.