Dr. Christine J. Hong
My parents are Korean immigrants. My mother used to say that back in the days of their immigration, whoever met you at the airport decided your destiny. In other words, whoever greets you at the threshold as you become a new immigrant determines the direction your life moves. I remember her words and reflect on them whenever I reach significant impasses in my life—a new job, a move, when I became a parent for the first time. Each significant milestone feels like a threshold. When I prepare to cross those thresholds, I look for the people and communities waiting on the other side, people and communities to anchor me and hold me in the nebulous spaces of change, uncertainty, and fear.
When my parents crossed over from being Korean to being Korean American, it was the local church pastor (also a Korean immigrant) who greeted them at the threshold, after they made their way through borders and customs at LAX.4 He picked them up in his car and took them to an apartment complex to get them housed. Next, he took them to meet members of his church who worked at ticketing at LAX. My parents worked the next few years at Korean Airlines ticketing and baggage claim, hourly jobs that paid the bills and gave them footing in a new country. The final stop was the Korean immigrant church that would be their community as they settled in a new country,with a new language, and, in some ways,a new understanding of Christian faith. It was the Korean immigrant church folx who anchored them to this new land. My parents arrived and were greeted by Korean American people who embraced them, settled them, and invited them to participate in building sustaining faith and peoplehood together.
Elizabeth greets Mary on the threshold, not only of her door but the threshold of something new in Mary’s life and for the world. Mary is met by her cousin who greets her with welcome, anticipation, and a powerful blessing. So rich was the blessing that the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt up and greeted Mary and the baby in Mary’s womb.Any fear Mary had was met with the contagious courage of Elizabeth, courage enough for them both. They were one another’s spiritual midwives—birthing together transformation, grounded in one another’s courage and steadfastness. They wondered together in liminal space, on the threshold of a new world. And through their spiritual and relational partnership, Mary and Elizabeth framed the path of partnership for their children too.