Love for A Mother in Its Full Glory
05 September 2012
Pre-dawn on a chilly autumn morning, we forced ourselves to abandon the warmth and comfort of our beds to brave the 5 Degree Celsius conditions at the Sun Moon Lake, about 750 metres above sea level in central Taiwan. This was despite the fact that we had to endure a 2-hour bumpy and windy drive up the mountains the night before, which did sap quite some energy from us. After that drive in the dark, we were hoping to catch a glimpse of the spectacular but elusive sunrise at this location (aptly named Sun Moon Lake) that some very lucky people who get to see it rave about.
We were out while it was still dark, but we after awhile we realised that we were not meant to bear witness to this “legendary” phenomenon. It was very foggy, and we could only catch rays of the sun in the thick clouds, but were not able to see the sun rising over the horizon. As the locals had warned us, probability was not on our side, as most days it was foggy at dawn, and one needed to be very fortunate to catch a clear morning to see the rising sun in its full glory.
We also understood why the locals called the fog “云海”, literally meaning “sea of clouds”. They could even have called it an ocean for all it was worth, and it had caused the morning to look very gloomy, with so little sunlight getting through.
Just as we were about to head back, disappointed, to the lodge for breakfast, we however spotted something that justified dragging ourselves out of bed so early and standing by the lake trembling for more than half an hour. On a knoll at the opposite end of the lake was a pagoda emerging from this thick sea of clouds, looking benignly over the lake and all of us who were there. Catching some of the sun’s rays, it appeared to be emitting a soft, warm glow amidst the gloom.
We later found out that the pagoda was called the Ci En Pagoda. It was built in 1971 by President Chiang Kai Shek, the Republic’s first president, in memory of his late mother. He had wanted a serene and beautiful spot befitting of his parent where he could relieve memories of his mother at, and it was at that spot that the Ci En Pagoda was built.
At that moment in time, before we had visited the pagoda and discovered its significance, the pagoda had already had a very positive effect on our spirits. It was standing there, steadfast and strong in the cold and gloom, reflecting some of the sun’s rays and softly warming our hearts. It had helped us to get over the disappointment of failing to catch the sunrise, and lifted our spirits for a full day’s exploration of the area around the lake. It had also drawn us towards it, as one of the first things we did after breakfast was to search for the pagoda on the map, and to head towards it to see it up close.
We had not realised it at that time, but in retrospect, what we had felt was exactly like the encouragement of a mother’s love. It was probably what the president had remembered about his mother, and something he never wanted to forget. That was the reason the Ci En Pagoda was standing before us.