The horizon was turning pink with the rising sun in Chonju of Buk-Do Province. The old woman threw off the heavy bed quilt and got stiffly to her feet. She was called "Halmonie" (grand mother) by her many grandchildren and children. The floor was still a little warm from the hot rocks laid under it the night before. But the winter air was freezing, and her breath showed in clouds of steam. In the dark, there were traces of ice along the edges of the white oiled paper windows. In spite of her age, she was wide awake. She was, after all, a Korean, and Koreans were proud of their fierce winters.
She put on a white quilted skirt that reached down to her ankles. Then a white cotton blouse and a purple knitted vest with pockets. She put slippers on her feet that looked like little canoes with upturned toes. Lastly, she put on her long fur over coat, tying it with a piece of rope. She pushed past the paper door and into the frozen dark. She made her way across the farm yard to the woodpile, holding her thin old fingers in her armpits to keep them warm.
The woodpile was a cone-shaped tower of sticks and chopped wood about as tall as the house. In the barn next to it, the rooster crowed, and the other animals began to stir. She dragged out a large chunk of sticks, frozen together, and turned back to the little house.
Inside, the three little girls were up. They took the wood from her and began making a fire in the fire pit for the morning rice.
"Where's the kimchi?" asked the old woman.
"I'll get it, Halmonie," said the youngest girl. She slipped into her father's gray felt boots and went quickly to the great clay kimchi jar buried outside to dig out a portion.
Meanwhile, in the next room, Halaboji (grandfather) was on his feet and dressed. He wore blue, baggy pants tied down on each ankle. Over that there was a white, wide-sleeved shirt with strings instead of buttons, and like Halmonie, he wore a vest with big pockets. He had a round face with a long wispy white beard and mustache, and no hair on top of his head.
Halaboji's son, the farmer Mr. Moon, was the head of this family. He was speaking earnestly to his pregnant wife. She was just getting up from her mat. He looked at her with concern. The baby would be born soon.
Their young son came in, bowed, and dutifully rolled up the quilts and mattresses. He took the low table from its place against the wall and set it in the middle of the room, placing cushions around it. Halaboji came in and sat down with farmer Moon, while one of the girls brought a brass pot of steaming barley tea.
"Father," said the farmer Moon, "she says the baby will be born tonight." He poured tea into the little green cups.
Halaboji slurped his tea. Halmonie came in carrying a big bowl of rice. "He says it's tonight," Halaboji said to her. She smiled as she hurried out.
After they were alone with their rice and kimchi, Halaboji said, "So, I can see in your face you have something else to tell me."
"I had two dreams last night," said the farmer Moon. Halaboji closed his eyes to show he was paying full attention. Everyone knew that he could interpret the meaning of dreams.
"In the first dream, I saw a golden rooster perched on the shrine of our ancestors. It was night, but the rooster was crowing and wouldn't stop. On the shrine there was incense burning, and it was a paper with the ends tied with wire. Then Confucius came and opened the paper, and it was painted with the six yang lines. Then I woke up."
Without hesitating, Halaboji spoke. "The six yang lines mean it will be a boy," he said, "and if you saw Confucius, it means the boy will grow up to be a Taegun, a saint, a true man!" He paused. Then, with a quiver in his voice, he said, "This is truly remarkable! The true man is all wise and generous, and he lives for the sake of others."
"Also," continued Halaboji, "when the rooster crows at sun rise, it means all evil spirits must go back to the underworld to escape the light of day. But when it crows at night, it means Heaven has won a victory. It means a saint has been born."
"My other dream was even stronger," said the farmer Moon. "I dreamed about the Shining Dragon of Heaven."
Halaboji slapped his hands down on the table. "This is too much!" he said hoarsely. "I have never heard of anyone dreaming of the Sacred Dragon."
"But it is true, Father. It was very clear," insisted the farmer Moon.
"Well, then, I will not interpret it," said Halaboji. "You must take that dream to the Mudang. Heaven may be speaking to you. She will know."
So later that morning, after feeding the animals, the farmer Moon packed up a bag of rice to take to the Mudang. He put on his white robe and big felt boots and his horsehair hat. It was a sign of serious business to put on this hat. It was made of horsehair and painted with black lacquer until it was stiff and hard. It had a great wide brim, and a tall straight crown, flat on top. It didn't actually fit around his head, but rather sat on top of his hair and was held in place with a black silk scarf tied under the chin. Farmer Moon felt like a wise man when he wore this hat.
He set off to see the Mudang. To the people in the little farm village, the Mudang was a doctor and priest all in one. When someone became terribly sick, she would come with her herbs. When they were having trouble with spirits, who would arrive with her singing and dancing and her bag of magic things. She could also read the future the way others might read a book. The Mudang lived in a world where the spirit world and the physical world were all together. Everything had a spirit. Not only animals, plants and people, but pots and pans, oil lamps, stones, the wind in the trees. Everything had something to say to her, because she knew how to listen.
Soon the farmer Moon arrived at her house. He walked a bit nervously to her door and rapped. No answer. He rapped again. Finally, he opened it a crack and called, "Mudang, are you here?"
"Come in," he heard her call. As he removed his boots, he saw that she was seated on the floor behind a low table. On the table was a pile of magic turtle bones, a bowl of water, and a bowl of salt. Her black hair was tied up in a bun.
He got right to the point. "I dreamed about the Shining Dragon last night," he told her.
She sat silently a moment, her eyes closed, listening. Finally, she nodded her head and said quietly, with some awe in her voice, "There is an old Korean legend about the first man, Taegun. Your dream tells us that now, after all these years, Taegun, or True Man, will be born in your house."
He raised his eyebrows in surprise, but he could see she was quite serious about this. He didn't ask any questions. She seemed to be finished, so he respectfully gave her the bag of rice and bowed deeply. He quickly put on his boots and let himself out of the house. As he went out the gate, he heard her call, "I will come to your house in eight days for the offering ceremony."
True man? Taegun? In his house? The farmer Moon walked in silence. It was all too much.
That night, the child was born.
Whenever babies were born, women became the masters of the house. They chased the men away and hurried to help the mother.
Farmer Moon and Halaboji didn't mind retreating to the kitchen. They sat near the fire pit and played Mah Jong, a kind of card game. Birth was a natural part of their lives, and they had been around for many births, both of humans and of animals. Yet, they both felt how special this one was. It was hard to concentrate on the game. Finally, the farmer Moon pushed his tiles away and leaned against the wall and waited. What if it was a girl?
Suddenly, a baby's cry was heard, followed by happy squeals of the women and girls. "A son!" they called to the men joyously. "It's a baby boy!" In a family of three daughters and one son, this was welcome news. But to the two men, it had a deeper meaning.
The farmer Moon quickly got to his feet and went into the other room to join the sounds of rejoicing. He saw the women and girls scurrying about with shining eyes. His wife smiled at him. He looked down at his son's little face. "We shall call him 'Sun Yong'" he said quietly. "Yong means 'Shining Dragon'."
Halaboji sat thinking about all that had happened that day. His granddaughter came to the door, calling for him to come, too. He waved her away and stood up. Pushing past the paper door, he stepped outside into the freezing night air.
It was January 6, 1920. The moon was shining down on the thin layer of snow. The air was full of silver light. A feeling of peace and good will seemed to ring in his ears. Like the Mudang, Halaboji seemed to be reaching out with his thoughts, waiting and listening. His thoughts were drawn to heaven. He looked up at an especially bright star and whispered, "Thank you."
Far away, across the gleaming rice field, a rooster crowed.
"Note": Later, Heavenly Father gave direction to change Father's name to Sun Myung. Moon means Truth; Sun is a symbol of the Christians; Myung means Light. Thus, his name, Sun Myung Moon, means "The Light of Truth has come to Christians."