Friday, March 25, 2016

2nd Degree PART 2- The Ceremony

Thursday March 24th.
This was the day of the ceremony, and it was at the Pottstown ATA school at 7pm.
That, of course, meant I had to miss my 3:55 class at Mont Co. If I waited till afterwards to leave, I'd be late for sure. That was a risk I was NOT willing to take. I hadn't missed a single class this semester, so I could just use this as one of my free absences.
I couldn't miss my early morning class though, which was ok since the digital photography class is more enjoyable. Plus my girlfriend Jenny wanted to come to the ceremony by taking the 3pm shuttle from main campus, so this way I could meet up early and take the shuttle to west campus (closer to home) together.

Jenny had brought her camera, so before leaving home in the evening we took family-of-four pictures with me in my uniform. I'm still not the most patient when it comes to posing for photos, but at least there weren't very many.

We arrived at the ATA school plenty early, so the four of them could get decent seats in the small lobby. The place was decorated with the big flags hanging from the ceiling, a small table with a decorative cloth (and incense burner) on it, and spread out neatly on the floor were everybody's new black belts; each with a small plate and candle sitting behind it. My Second Degree Black Belt, with my name sewn in red letters, was in the second row. The first row was solely my friend Riley. It was all in alphabetical order so we sat right where we were supposed to.

Since we'd gotten there early and the other kids (I was the second-oldest seated there in front of the instructors) were all sitting with our neatly folded belts, I passed the last ten minutes or so by talking to a couple of them.

Finally, it all got started just before seven. There was some tranquil music/sounds playing, most of the lights were out, and the other instructors took turns lighting the candles in front of them from Mr. Morgan's candle. After that, Riley lit his. Then my row of three went up to light our candles from the instructors' directly in front of us.
While that was going on, the sounds playing went into a narration of Eternal Grandmaster Haeng Un Lee reading the Scrolls of Songahm (here's the link so you can read what it said). We sat there listening to him speak, practically still as statues. Sometimes I'd look straightforward, later shift my eyes to the floor or to the now-lit candle in front of me.

The Songahm Scroll thing lasted maybe five minutes. We blew out our candles, and Mr. Morgan gave us a really good pep talk before calling each of us to come forward. One by one, starting with my friend Riley, we each grabbed our new belts from where they sat in front of us, walked up to Mr. Morgan, and he tied the new belts on us as the old ones lay across our shoulders. After that, we shook hands with the instructors and cheered on the other students who received their new belts; first and second-degrees alike.
One of my classmates from the adult class, I remembered (in fact a LOT of us remembered) had tested on Saturday with a broken foot. She was called out positively for that, and applauded louder than others for that black belt attitude and motivation. She also received a bouquet of flowers from her parents right then and there when she got her First Degree Black Belt tied on.

 When we were all seated again, there was another thing Mr. Morgan gave us with our candles; A ROCK. Very symbolic, it was. We would feel the rock and he'd ask us about how it felt. Rough, and smooth. Just like the taekwondo journey, and life even. Some smooth easy spots here and there but also a lot of rough ones.
Just some food for thought there...

PICTURE TIME! After the ceremony (it was less than a half hour, I was pretty surprised) we all got into group pictures, making poses, smiles, fighting stances, GRRR faces and so forth. Didn't go on long though and nobody was picky. Later I took some family pictures, took a couple with Jenny and with Mr. Morgan too.

All in all, successful and feeling-accomplished evening :) took FOREVER, but I've made it another belt rank up.