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lördag 31 december 2016

Ring out, wild bells!!!!

In Memoriam, [Ring out, wild bells]

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Yes, we use this poem every New Years eve, on national television and long before that, one of the most celebrated actors would read it , in Swedish I dare say, from the Skansen-park, the one I told you about in The Stockholm post. Below you find my personal favourite- Georg Rydeberg, long lost from us. What an actor he was, the voice, the face!!!
This New Years eve we have spent alone, friends couldn't come over, teenagers are sulking and the 17 year old have given me my first ( and last ) full make-up. Salmonsandwiches for starters, chicken with bacon, tomatoes and cream and roast potatoes and frozen cheesecake with gingerbreadcrums and raspberries and saffron.  In church we heard the vicar preach and our local tenor sing . The weather is grey and windy, torches go down and fireworks go haywire.  On national tv we've seen that BBC sketch with the countess and her butler, celebrating New Year with her 4 long gone friends. Hilarious and sad. It's been on tv since I was a child and I know every line from mr Winterbottom. 
So I look back on this year and regret things done and words said. I can clearly see what could have been done better, kindlier and wiser, from my part.  I also think about the beggers outside the store yesterday, a 25 year old girl called Maria, on her knees with a papercup and my old friend Christoff that asked for me, haven't seen him for many months. None of them have a regular base, not in our town anyway. That is one of the things I regret - not doing more for them. 
The world is uneasy and shaking, let's pray that He who holds us in his hands will be more firm handling our chilled hearts. Let's hope for courage, less second thoughts and political crap, more light, more truth and more action where it's needed. Let's pray for common goals and wisdom on the path that leads us there. More walking, living, talking, working,laughing and crying together.  More mercy and O Lord, more of grace and comfort to those who suffer.
A very happy , bright and blessed New year to you all, out there!!!!!

torsdag 29 december 2016

And so they are both gone!!!

Debbie Reynolds passed away only a day after her beloved daughter Carrie.

Sad year this, for the world of entertainment. On Christmas eve we lost one of my favourite authors - Richard Adams. Age 96, so you could say he got a long life. In our family his books have been a great source of joy and excitement.
As for Debbie Reynolds I know rather little, but I always loved Singing in the rain, she was both funny and beautiful. This is one of my favourite scenes:

A friend of mine made a comment when I was moaning about all these famous people dying, she said that I might considder having rolemodels that are more resistant, like saints.
Saints, will keep shining.  Yes, I do have a few very dear saints in my collection of important people, but these stars also mean a lot to us. The voices, the talents, the performances, the joy.
I am very grateful for ALL people that brings joy and warmth to my life. And I do feel bad and sad for every family that looses someone dear, be it tragic or natural. 
Still, when we loose a celebrity, the feelings we carry inside will come forward because it's okej to mourn someone not very close, in public, but it's hard to put words to sorrow when it's hurtful and close.  I've said it before, there are reasons for this massive reaction when someone famous dies,  we need to practise on letting our feelings find words!

tisdag 27 december 2016

Enough ,enough ,enough!! RIP, Carrie!!

Good evening!

This has been a dark year indeed, both in our family, in the world among fellow humanbeings
and in the world of entertainment. Now this morning we learn that Carrie Fisher died from that wretched heartattack she got on the plane!
That lovely, funny, independent and strong princess!!  How we adored her!
Carrie have also been a very strong personality, her life has been everything but glamorous some years, she has been very open about personal disasters and that has brought hope to many.  
So, again, I know my Redeemer liveth, but I also know that Carrie Fisher is dead,  luckily the former outweighs the latter but I'm still very ,very sad.  My thoughts go to her family and friends.  
Read my post from 21 of october, her 60th birthday, if you want to know more about her http://thebadhipperspective.blogspot.com/2016/10/carrie-frances-fisher-brightest-shining.html     .

måndag 26 december 2016

RIP George!

Well, I must be getting old.  
In the middle of celebrating the most bright and wondreous times, we are being saddened with yet another entertainers death.
George Michael, the talented singer, has left us.  I know, there have been headlines on him, for sure he had a tough life every now and then, but that voice!!
I have followed him since Whan broke loose and he really was gifted.
A sad loss for his family and close friends, a sad loss for the musical world.
Here is a Youtube clip where he performs a Queensong, two great things in one.
This year it would have been Freddies 70th birthday....
Michael Parkinson, the very talented talkshow host, did some great conversations with George, I will look them up shortly.

söndag 25 december 2016

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain, it's Christmas!

Merry Merry Christmas!!
Malmoe, 1944, how say you to this, mr Stephenson!!!?

6.30 this morning we sang Silent night, In the bleak midwinter and O holy night, celebrating the birth of our Saviour.

This Christmas is raincloudy and there is a storm coming in tomorrow. In church where about 125 people, teenagers halfasleep. Yesterday morning we celebrated with about seven different nationalities present in the local chapel, always very exciting.
We took a brisk walk this afternoon and now where in for some coffee, perhaps some scrabble or other treatment and peace will slowly come to the world. Or so we hope. For safety we watched a Christmasfilm - the Polarexpress. Nice and cosy.

This years tree was actually cut in the garden, growing inside a pinetree of some sort. Below is an old elf from my grandmothers house and a goat of wood.  Decorated with no sense for theme or order of any kind, not in our house

It is somewhat strange this commercial celebration, someone made a calculation on how much of the typical Christmas soda we drink in Sweden every Christmas. The money spent on it would buy us 26.000 typical middlesize villas....and that was only the soda!

But still, so many great and heartwarming intitiativ have been taken this christmas, as it has many years before.
Even if many never attend any services, tokens of love between people are very obvious. So, in many places, people don't have to fear celebrating alone, there are places to go. Families with no means can in some cities get help with food and presents, people who lack roof over there heads can find shelter.
But not everywhere I'm afraid. In our own town there is no place to go to celebrate Christmas, there is no place to stay if you are homeless. This is a shame. I hope we can change this.
But still, blessed be all these people who made a difference for someone unknown this Christmas, all over the world.

"God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, cause Jesus Christ our Saviour was born on Christmas day, to save us all from satans power when we were gone astray -

 O tidings of comfort and joy!!!!"

Yes, I know that this crib is somewhat unorthodox....but it's ours!!!   Blessings to you all!! May the light stay on!

tisdag 20 december 2016

Adeste fidelis!! O come ye!!

  It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I can absolutely say that this has been a very dark and strange year for our family, but we are trying hard to fight it through. One thing that really makes the difference is the running of  our church year. Reminding me of the promises and revelations.  However dark I find my days, night shall not prevail. However bad the world is turning, His love will stand victorious.

And so when we got home from church this evening, after this years Christmasconcert, our oldest had almost finished decorating the house. Too early for me, but she really needed to do this and there it was!
Since Ray shared some music on her latest post, I would like to do the same. On Youtube I find some of the songs we sang tonight: This is Natt skall ej förbliva,  Night will not prevail, this you can listen to here, I really love it:
The one below is rather old and here sung by a choir in my old church in Malmö. It's simply called Jul Jul,  Christmas, christmas, radiant Christmas..Nice. 

Of course we also sing swedish versions of Silent night, Adeste fideles, O holy night and several english hymns that have been translated. 

 Here below is one classic swedish that we always sing on the morning of Christmas day: "When Christmas day is dawning, to the stable I will go"
Several I couldn't find, I have to come around to publishing my own recordings here, how??
If you read music sheets, below is one I wrote some years ago, adapted for three-part choir. I can't write any musical notes, let alone read any, but I shamelessly use my collegues to put my twiddlings on paper. This one turned out rather well.  The lyrics translated perhaps like this:
"December night, hours that stray, longing to see the dawn of the day. Wander in hope, believe in the word - a child will be born to save all the world. For the Lord will share his light, and the star will shine so bright over Betlehem where my heart will find peace."

This is called "Longing for Betlehem". A simple tune, I'm no great composer,  rather nicely set for choir by my collegue.  Above I tried to translate some, that is really rather difficult!

The Christmas concert of last year, I didn't hold the prayer so I'm somewhere in the middle.

A typical swedish christmas some hundred years ago had traces of pagan rituals, so Santa Claus is a rather late invention here, we had gnomes living in the barn, lepricons perhaps they could be called, looking something like this, but much simpler in clothing:
When these little goblins were treated badly they could act real mean but in folklore they eventually got round to take care of the house, deliver presents, here with the goat that for many years precedented Santa. Children of past days where scared with many things, goats, witches, trolls, gnomes, ghosts and other pleasant creatures lurking in the woods or in caves or underground. Before the days when father ,dressed as Santa ,came banging on the door, people used to wrap up a gift, bang loudly on the door and throw it in. 21 of december is Thomas mass, after that date it was not allowed to argue or fight, Christmas peace should reign. That is also the longest night of the year, then the light slowly returns.

These two gentlemen are about hundred years old, they come from my grandmothers home.
This church was made by some elderly gentlemen in Ystad where we used to live. It's suppose to be a model of one of the many churches in the countryside around Ystad. We bought it 1992 , inside there are benches, an alter, a priest and a mixed congregation. We do have a crib but it hasn't arrived in it's place yet, too early still.....

A typical swedish Christmas of today would probably start with some odd presents in the morning, round 11 some have the tradition to attend church, a service around the crib. Later in the afternoon we have the Christmasprayer. But most people are at home watching Donald Duck wishing a merry Christmas, waiting for the man with the bag.

We eat a lot, smoked and cooked ham with pickled cabbage, mustard and potatoes, sausages, meatballs, liverwurst, pickled herrings of all kinds,smoked salmon, eggs, a dish we bake in the oven with striped potatoes, anchovis, onions and cream. For desert we eat rice porridge with fruit sauce. After the Santa has payed his visit the presents are opened and we have gluhwein or coffee and cookies and pastries. Like these here.  
When I was a child we would sometimes sing some hymns and then plays cards or Monopoly. 

Every year we have a host on tv, we've had that for 50 years, in the early days of television people needed a guide for the tableau, and it was considdered important for  lonely people to have someone kind to spend the Christmas with.  For many years it was the same man, lighting the candles and looking all fatherly and kind . Cartoons where scarce so we watched Donald Duck and friends.
  At 6.30 in the morning we celebrate Christmas day, choir on the organloft, me leading the service, the service is very traditional and called Julotta, meaning VERY EARLY. 
But today it's wednesday morning/night and I have to sleep a few hours before heading for the local chapel where our villageschool holds a ceremony to celebrate the end of this semester. The holidays will last until january 10th.  I'm invited to speak.  Later in the afternoon the mood shifts and I will hold a funeral, one of the three this week. Life in church is just like life itself, ever shifting.

tisdag 13 december 2016

Lucia - the Saint that Sweden adopted !!??

Such beauty even in an outburned candle from the lantern on the front doorstep!

So now we are approaching the fourth advent sunday, the holy mother of God will come forth and be heard in the vaults of our churches. But first:

Sweden has it's mysterious traditions, just as other countries have.
The countryside was filled with myths and legends and folktales and some became a part of the christian inheritage.  This is Lucia, more or less. This tradition is a mixture of pagan rituals, folklore and an italian saint spreading light in the name of Jesus.

We noticed Lucia in the 13th century and started to celebrate a hundred years later.  We used the Julian calender then and the 13th of december was the longest night, so dark forces were in motion and needed be battled. The pagan tradition contained several light rituals to persuade the forces of light to return, I know at least one druid who could tell more!!
Since that night was dangerous with evil spirits of the dead and demons of all sorts rampaging the landscape, everybody stayed up for safety and so the prechristian traditions are for certain plenty and some more perilous and outrageous than others. The same thinking can be found around midsummer in lots of countries.  
The Luciatradition as it came to be handled in Sweden, fitted very well in to the line of thinking that darkness must be warded off and the light of Christ was introduced through already established customs and beliefs!! So the rituals slowly transformed into traditions of sacred nature, with influences from the southern catholic church.  After we became lutherans,the tradition transformed again.  The Saints where not to be worshipped but held in respect. But Lucia stayed on developping in both shape and performance and moved indoors of the greater mansions.

When we changed calender the dates for midwinter altered but the 13th stayed on for Lucia.      
Christmas preparations had to be finished by the 13th, the slaughter and such. The wardingoff traditions became the younger ones chance to have a laugh, in the 18th century young boys got out in the darkness, singing and begging and probably making a lot of scary noise around the farmhouses.   In recent days, the need to stay awake all night was appealing to the swedish teenagers, so the dancefloors and bars where filled to the brim that night, making the early morning singing in schools and churches a somewhat hazardous quest.....

In around 1893 the tradition from mansions and university of singing girls in white robes, became commonly celebrated in Skansen, the park in Stockholm I told you about in my Stockholm post, some decades later a big newspaper made up a competition for young, pretty and singing girls to become Lucia, with her maidens. One, particularly pretty girl with a good voice would be chosen the Lucia of Sweden for that year. A weekly magazine picked up the challenge and made it more of a beautycontest.    The habit spread and today we choose Lucia in every school, daycarecenter, kindergarten and in every community.

 In church we try to keep the tradition somewhat sacred.  The songs are about heavenly light, waiting for the holy child, it's about St Stephen, the stable boy who saw the star first, a popular figure for the boys, white robes, a white pointy hat and a star in hand and so on.   Lucia, we are told, many different legends around this girl, was a young girl with a passion for helping the poor in the name of Jesus.It's also said that she made a secret vow of chastity and was bethrowed without her mother knowing and when it got out they had her reported to the emperor Diocletan.  Her husband to be  treathened her and she was imprisoned. She wouldn't yield so he had her eventually burned. Or somehow tortured and killed.  Another legend states that she tore her eyes out and send them to him. On older paintings you see her with a tray or plate, containing her eyes!!
Yes, and in the swedish tradition, that tray is filled with coffee, Lussekatter and Gingerbread.....
Lussekatter, a wheatbun with saffron and raisins. Very Swedish! They can be shaped as single  double , crowns , brades and larger figures. Wheatbuns was the privilege of the upper class, today we could use a bit of rhye now and then, but not at Lucia!!
The burning of Lucia is represented with a crown of burning candles on Lucias head, although the Lucias around 5-6 years of age, have battery candles.. There is also a pagan tradition of a light godess involved in the lights -on -the -head part ..And yet another legend stating that Lucia helped the poor souls in the dungeons, bringing them food and to light her way she put candles on her head.

 As a child, I dressed up for Lucia with the other children ( never got that leading part though, always maiden) and walked the alleys and doorsteps of our neighbours, singing Lucia and Christmas songs.  We could be 8-10 children. In school we did the same, I got no solos and no lightcrown, I got the reading of poems!
Later on, in the churchchoir, we were enough girls and boys below our twenties, so we did a gigantic Luciaprocession every year.
Confused?  Look here, first the angellike voices of Norrlandskörens Lucia, then a Chaotic and sweet Lucia in Kindergarten and finally - tadah!  Lucia, age 87, and her maides in the oldfolks home a couple of days ago in our county!!

In Kindergarten, Lucia is quite a different story, with gnomes, starboys and gingerbreadmen and whatnot. Every song is offkey and sung in various versions simultaneously but we still cheer and cry.

This galant lady, age 87, made her first appearance ever as Lucia. No time like the present!!!

When Lucia has marched in and out some tenthousand schools, churches, malls, squares, markets, hospitals, factories, it's time to buy the Christmas tree, bake the cakes and prepare for Christmas de luxe. As you can imagine, the Lucia of today has very little to do with the Italian Saint.  Since the legends differ among themselves, it's not easy to know head or tale. But a saint she is and Lucia will stay on in Sweden!!!

Next post will share some swedish Christmas songs and hymns , and some traditions.  Blessings!!!!

onsdag 7 december 2016

The TATINOF experience!!

And so we were again going to the big capitol, Stockholm!!
Why, you may wonder?
My oldest has a better camera than I.
Well, you know we have two teenage daughters and we try to indulge ourselves in their world, strange as it may be. You have seen two of the characters they follow on Youtube, that is, Thatcher Joe, in the post about London and John Cozart in the post about Hogwarts. 
Now I'm keeping you on the track with Dan and Phil or Dan is not on fire and Amazing Phil, both nowadays Londoners. Still confused? No wonder, so am I. 
A Youtuber is a person that communicates his or hers talents, hobbies, thoughts or pranks through a Youtube channel. Then they hope that someone will find them interesting, amuzing, annoying or worth looking at and come back to watch more. That wraps it up, I think.
A Youtuber can be anyone, perhaps your grandchild or the neighbours daughter!!
This is Cirkus, a 19th century theatrehall, very beautiful. As you can see, the running show is Phantom of the Opera. The hall was inaugurated may 25th 1892 , to house the larger circustroups that came to Stockholm to amuze the royals. All of Djurgården, as this large setting is called ,was actually a  playground for the King. It was used among other things, as huntingground were animals were implanted that didn't belong there, big game, like lions.....
We stayed here, the girls were amazed since we had but 25 metres to the entrance of the theatre!!! This hotel is almost as old as the Cirkus, quite nice. No, this is no advertising!!!
The ceiling is beautifully coloured and there are statues and carvings inside the Circus hall.
After about 90 minutes of showtime with song, dance, challenges and a lot of things I knew absolutely NOTHING about, the show ended and the schrilling, hysterical crowd with teenagers in llamahats and whiskers rampaged out. I was short of hearing for quite a while, not beacuse of the lads, but because of the audience, good Lord!!!

This is the park, Skansen, were we went this summer, it looks quite different now!! And it was rather nice to take a slow walk in the chilly air before getting back to the hotel.
Here , by the way, is Dan and Phil, a bit more modest in the adverticing than the Phantom!! Their channel is actually two, they make things together but also apart. They take challenges, answer questions, prank each other, speaks of embarrassing things and mistakes they've made, plays videogames , well, they have millions of followers, it has to be a hit!I find them sweet.

Please, do listen to the song, it really is NOTHING of what you would expect from wild Youtubers!!

Since this TATINOF ( the amazing tour is not on fire, please don't ask what that means...)
was not scheduled in Europe at all, they had been to Australia and US , we were taken aback when they suddenly announced Germany and Sweden.  So, against my better judgement we bought tickets, booked hotel and.....flight!!! I know, fly within the country is against my every line of environmental concern, but time was crucial so we took to wings!
All in all, the trip went well. I learned however, that check-in via internet is no use, something ALWAYS goes wrong and you have to do it all over again any way.
If all goes well, I'm back in Stockholm on friday because long time ago an old friend of mine invited me up to go and see the show celebrating what should have been Freddie Mercurys 70th birthday. BUT I'M TAKING THE TRAIN, mind you!!
Blessings from the flying minister.

torsdag 1 december 2016

Linear life

I find it awfully strange to realize what actually goes on in mine and others heads these days.
I spend time and energy on things that really has no impact on anything important.
Like the fact that the Christmas gift of the year i said to be Virtual glasses. Virtual glasses? 
Is that anything like the progressive lenses I am stuck with?  No? I should have guessed.
Virtual reality is just one other way to avoid real reality. Many seem to have a great urge to do that. But those who actually are living their nightmare has no option. There is no other reality to grasp but the one at hand.  The very thought of calling that progress makes me feel sick. 

Another thing that drains my energy is something they said on the tube the other day: linear tv-users. They are rapidly changing the means for tv-watching, channels and frequenses being altered and programmes being delivered in new versions, digital.  What really gets on my nerves is that it's considdered some kind of salvation for people that they can watch their tv-shows and everything else, anytime and anywhere. No need for tv-schedules, no need even for a tv-set, no need to mark the calender for your favourite tv-show. You can watch whenever you wan't, wherever you want and incessantly as well.  Linear watching is out!!  Analog is dead. In the early days, tv closed down at 22 or perhaps 23. When our primeminister was shot tv couldn't spread the news because everything was closed down and the technicians went home to sleep.  So? He wouldn't be less dead because we didn't know anything until early morning.  Today we are reached by the news even before they have happend it seems and anyone can make news, true or not. 

We are available around the clock and now we can take part of the entire mediaworld around the clock. No need for tv-sets or cinemas, we can watch everything in our mobiles or Ipads, never rest, never close, never quiet, never dark. That's progress and the blessings of technic solutions.

But I still sit myself down when it's the nine o'clock news. This evening I had my laptop working simultaneously, yes, stupid!!! But I dropped it when I watched a young man, a boy almost, showing the cameramen where his mother and sister just had been blown to pieces , this was Aleppo. Around him lay bodies, shoes, bags, shattered windows. When he turned to point out where the second granade hit, his voice broke and his eyes stared blankly around him. That was virtual reality? No that was real reality. And I don't want to rerun it at will. 
But I really ought to spend my time and energy fighting for those who lose everything in front of no one and in front of the tvcameras.  Progress will continue,  I can't stop it by moaning about it,  I really have better things to do.  So, goodnight and God bless. May this world once again be safe and beautiful.  And may we dare to live linear lifes, in the real world.

söndag 27 november 2016

Rejoyce - it's Advent Sunday!!!

Happy New Year!!!

Daughter of Sion, lift thy forehead, Heavenly Kingdom is near. Sing aloud your Hosanna, for your King is now here! God his Son to earth now has sent,  so rejoyce, it is Advent!!!"

This was one of the very songs that brought me right into the lap of God, my first year in the churchchoir, I was 17 and agnostic. Since then I have sung this with several different churchchoirs and it's always fantastic and uplifting and sends shivers down my spine of joy. It's a swedish song by an old churchmusician called Otto Olsson.  It's called "Advent", simply. Here sung by the Sofia chamberchoir in Stockholm, a clip from Youtube. I don't have any means of bringing you our choir!!!

 We light one candle at the time, for every sunday. But we also turn on the electric lights and stars in the windows.   
The friday before Advent Sunday we go by boat out to the small island that is a part of our parish, and the small chapel there. I tend to do that trip quite reluctantly since I often enter the chapel with a greenish complexion...luckily it wasn't my turn this year!! Not the sundayservice either, I was on the organloft with the churchchoir, looking down at the herd!!
Our large church can take about 600, but this sunday it's not so crowded, however, most people prefer sitting further back, so them you can't see at all!!! Up in front the candlestick with the four candles can be seen, but the flame is drowned in sunlight! And we sing our songs and hymns, we read the Prophet and the gospel about the king on his donkey. This morning several hundreds of thousands candles were lit, 1st of Advent. Many have no clue to what it all is about but the tradition lingers on, even if you never go to any service during this period. I do wish more could be reached by the message of mercy and the Kingdom of God!

 I also add some pictures from the small chapel or Missionhouse, later this afternoon, quite different in character that service is, plain wooden benches, children singing, homebaked cookies and coffee afterwoods.

All set for the advent festivities today, here many many children had their sundayschool, in the back a large furnace, no running water, outdoor loo. In one hour from now there will be people in every corner and the heat will cloud the windows. 9 children talked , sang and lit the candles, Rolf played his violin, another Rolf sang the songs he has sung here the last 50 years or so,  Annies Quartett sang the songs we have been singing for 16 years, the ladies served a great coffeetable with homebaked cookies, we all sang the traditional hymns, I held a sermon and then we all went home in the darkness, but with bright hearts.

The elderly gentleman doing this beautiful decoration has done so for God knows how many years!

And this is the last thing I see, leaving the chapel, the moist on the windows and the electric candles barely showing through.
The chapel was built 1921. I love it.
One hymn we always sing, in every swedish church, is this one:
The choir leading the congregation in this Youtubeclip is Maria Magdalena and Youth Alive gospel.  The lyrics: "Hosanna, Son of David, blessed be the one that comes in the Lords name, Hosanna in the highest"  Voglers music this is.

The trees surrounding the square are filled with lights!!
In the Frogpark ( well, I didn't name it!!) the lights are transformed into hearts. It does make me feel rather good, actually.
If you want, you can buy your christmastree already, they sell them outside every store and gas station, we have large plantations all over Sweden.  When the season is over, they go for recycling or simply in to the furnace!!! We never buy before the 20th, but that's us!!

The mainstreet lights up when the sky is darkening, shopwindows filling up with seasons decorations and exposing Christmas gifts of all kinds. Christmas market is held in the old barns by the castle. And in every village, more or less. The season starts earlier and earlier, some stores start already in the beginning of october!!! Me no like!!

Every year the children gets a calender, I know many of you have the same traditions. The calender, a german idea from the beginning, just like the ornamented christmastree, was meant to bring children one step closer to the holy birth, day by day, with nice and sparkling pictures. Soon it became filled with chocolate and today you can buy these calenders filled with everything from perfume to whiskybottles. Oh, and chocolate..... the pictures inside has silently passed from stars, candles and mangers to snowmen, skates and presents.

The swedish national television is broadcasting since 1958 a Christmas calender for children, with a short story every day from 1 to 24 of december, not from Advent anymore. The stories are greatly varied from goblins and elfs to babies being born in a garage in the suburb or tales of christmases in the past or stories about anything but christmas. Very seldom the issue is the birth of our Saviour. So some churches make their own calender , and some even have a live calender, with actors telling the gospel. 

May your days of the advent season be blessed , thoughtful and bright!!!

måndag 21 november 2016

Where there used to be life

A very good night to you!!

I thought I'd just wanted to share something that has nothing whatsoever to do with Trump, Erdogan, french election or climatechange.
I wrote a shortstory called House abandoned, in my other blog. That blog is gaining a bit, you have been visiting, thank you!! It's mostly fiction but in that blog but the truth is very close at hand.  Anyhow, I have now visitors from all over, like Singapore and such a delight that is!!

Now for the subject, speaking of abandoned houses, yes, I also wrote a post here, called Empty room. I have a soft spot for old houses, especially empty ones. I grew up in the city and when a house was empty, they tore it down. Often very violently and with great thunder and dustclouds. A treat for us children.  But as I know live in the countryside, old houses stay put long after they are abandoned, the owner moves out or dies and there is no one to take over or even sell it. No one to pay for the destruction so there it stands.  I am sure you can tell me one or two things about that in your own neigbourhood, be it Trelawnyd or Dalamory or a dale in Yorkshire! Or Nice. Or Prague. How has things changed??
Here, we have a county consisting of several small villages and a community that is the place where our local politicians are housed, it's the town with one trafficlight, you remember I said that, Chris?
I get around quite a lot and see many traces of life that used to be. Abandoned schools, closed shops, plain little cottages that used to be filled with a family of twelve and so on.
When I went to pick up my car from the mechanic, I passed this:

Alright, you say, she's gone all barmy.  Gateposts. So?  Well you see, these are not just gateposts, this is where the school used to be!! This village is today so small that it's hard to believe its former greatness, but once, you see, once it was alive and flourishing . But it isn't emptied,many live here!!! When the school was torn down, yes it actually was, auntie Svea started to collect the brickstones, washed them, tied a ribbon around and a note and handed them out to people so that the school would not be forgotten!! She did the same when the small railway was taken away, took the large nails, polished them and gave them as presents to people.  What a cultural deed from  Svea, who was the wife of a much beloved churchmusician and choirleader here.

One of the bricks, and a key, is stored in church!

And this??? Well of course , it's a grocery store!! Millbournes grocery store!! It wasn't even the only one, most villages had two or three and bakeries and buthchers. Today there is nothing in most of the villages. What can you tell about your villages??
Beside this old shop there is an old chapel or Missionary house as we call them. Used to be very much alive along with the two or three others in every village. Today it's owned by a local Harley Davidson club called.......The Heathens. It's no joke!  I didn't take any picture of that......
Next post will be about the coming season, Advent. But please, do tell me some stories about what used to be where you live. 

söndag 6 november 2016

Darkness will not prevail - stories from the dusk in november

Slowly the lightglobe in our smaller church is filling up.

As I am watching a documentary about the road to the White House,  my thoughts are wandering rather far away from the dirty campaigning and the hidden skeletons in wardrobes .  This week has been quite unusual. Pope Francis was here, making many people happy and hopeful and others angry and grudgy. Halloween passed unnoticed because of the evil clowns roaming the country, nobody even dared to dress up.
Since that date also is Reformationday we told our girls there was no need for candy ...

This week , finally, is the week for All Saints day and All souls Day.
What it actually means is that people gather from all over, they take their flowerpots, their candles, their rakes and shuffles to take care of familygraves and honour their loved ones by decorating and cleaning up.  We open up the church for coffee, candlesticks and quiet conversation.   People come back, year after year to come in and have a chat and some coffee.
In the evening, the church fill up for the services.
Rather hopeful services with a lot of music, singing and a will to speak of death without fear. We have dealt with the gospel about salt and light,  we have spoken about the seed that needs to die.  There are hugs, laughter and tears when we meet like this.

But to prepare myself I take walks among the visitors in the churchyard, where the conversation takes many forms, not always related to the gospel or even the church.
Many many different stories are told in those meetings, stories about people I never met, stories about people I did meet but never got to know and stories about people I thought I knew.  The tellers are widows, children and grandchildren, brothers, cousins, neighbours and schoolmates. Both the tellers and the long gone person grows as I listen, into much more than just a person, they become what we really are: Gods image, created earth to earth, dust to dust, with a clear hope of eternity and while living; an endless story in many chapters. It is well worth it, freezing in the cold wind, to hear the story long forgotten or never told.

As the dusk is slowly falling, the lanterns on the graves creates beacons of light and hope. On the headstones you can often see the image of the lighthouse or the rising sun of Resurrectionday, but those images get blurred in the darkness.

While there is still light, I walk along the row of headstones, taking in the names, the occupations , the village names, biblequotes and the images chosen. In Sweden there was, for some decades, a habit of mentioning peoples livelyhood on the headstone. Further back and in current time, there are only names and years, sometimes in goldwriting, or just plain black.
On the stones dated 1450, 1570, 1720 and so on, there is often an entire familyhistory, with titles and all.
Some graves are very large , some headstones are gigantic and some very small.  There I find farmers, fishermen, captains, wardens, ministers, bankers, landowners, carpenters, painters and teachers.  Some of them I have heard of, their stories, many I have no clue about. 

Sometimes , on some large familygrave, you trace a sad story,  small headstones with just one name on it, and perhaps years, 1943 to 1949,  april to september, long forgotten tears.
Some rest alone, no trace of husbands or wifes, children or others, some stayed on the farm with the parents, and now they rest side by side. Further away is a heap of pebbles, marking a place where we can light a candle and remember those lost at sea.

And I walk slowly , stopping by headstones with names of people I held the service for. Some families I remember clearly, some I never had so much chance to talk to. I have been here eleven years,  many stories have been given me, sometimes in the direct meeting, sometimes afterwards, preparing the service with the families. I should be grateful, I suppose that is why I'm writing this.  The darkness that falls over the world today reminds us of what we loose during a lifetime, the people , the childhood, adventures and struggling, holidays and workingdays, neighbours, friends and foes. We keep the stories written in our hearts for as long as we live, sometimes they can be recovered in letters and diaries as I have written in an early post, Tresures of the written word, february this year.. Some people actually becomes chapters in a real book, becoming fiction or actual local history.  The farms around here have chapters way back in time, some are abandoned, many are not, there are still lights in the windows.

When we gather like this to remember and mourn, it's a comfort to see the others sitting next to me in the churchbench. Its a comfort to hear the churchchoir, sing the hymns and listen to the word of the gospel. Yes we are flesh and blood, but the promise of eternity speaks of a new creation where we still are those we were meant to be, but death has been defeated and darkness overwhealmed.  We light candles both outside and inside to make this message one we can hold on to.  We need it both in our own lifes and for the sake of the world that makes us worried.  The outcome of tomorrows election holds many in great suspence, fear even. I don't know what to make of it, the fate of the world is not even in the hands of a president.  Whatever comes next, darkness will not prevail,  and hopefully, that hope will keep us warmhearted and brave. That promise will strenghten us to keep meeting, keep telling our stories and keep sharing life.
What did we make of Halloween??? Nothing ,nothing and nothing. I did carve a pumpkin though, it's here on our doorstep flashing the word "Peace" and then stars on the sides.  It scares no one and will hopefully stand upright for a couple of weeks, frost is approaching.

Peace be with you!!

tisdag 1 november 2016

St. Francis came to visit!!! The Pope was here!!!


The historical visit is actually happening: il Papa, the Pope, S.t Francis arrived in Sweden yesterday morning. He was greeted by the swedish prime minister, and later had a meeting with the king and queen.  Since the world Lutheran conference had its origin in Lund, that was the natural spot to have this meeting.  There has been plenty of disagreements and fighting over the centuries, and so many tears have been shed over the broken bonds. Reformation gave common people a bible to read, a church open to everyone and a new hope for sinners, so it seemed. What was lost was the unity of siblings and the sharing of the holy communion. That has caused so much pain and that pain lingers on. Yes, there are many wounds to heal, but Luther never meant to cause pain, he just wanted people to get closer to the gospel.What the Pope Francis now does is to come here and speak about the blessings of the reformation and the great need to forgive and embrace those who are no enemies but loved brothers and sisters. He is the heart and center of the worldwide catholic church and have to hold together the many branches. Still his choice is to take part of the celebration of Martin Luther! 

Thousands of young catholics came to see their big boss, their hero, hoping to get a selfie, thousands of other catholics but also thousands of protestants singing, praying and talking together. He was also greeted by the archbishop Antje, a woman!! And the bishop of the swedish catholic church, Anders Arborelius. A convert, actually.
 Last time a pope was here was 1989 but that was nothing like this. Mind you, John Paul was also loved and respected among protestants.

The visit began in the cathedral of Lund, my dioces that is, where Johan Tyrberg is bishop. There he celebrated an eccumenical service with about 400 invited guests from all over the world. The head of LWC, Martin Junge, was there as well as LWCs bishop Munib Younan. It was a moment of great joy when they signed the agreement that actually started to grow 50 years ago!! To unite the churches and seek common goals, for the sake of hope and mercy! Because we all gather around the same Saviour. There was singing, dancing, praying and preaching during that service.

The event was broadcasted live on tv and radio as well as large screens in town. 
After the service the Pope took off to Malmoe to join the party with 10.000 people waiting there for him to arrive. There he spent a few hours, enhancing the joy!! After that I gather the old man was a bit tired and so the brothers in a small monastery housed him for the night.
Early this morning he went to celebrate mass with the swedish catholic church, busloads of people came from everywhere to celebrate with their beloved Papa.

We were planning to take part of this historical moment, we really wanted to see this with our own eyes but personal reasons have prevented us and so I have no pictures of my own to present to you. Regrettably.  I borrowed a small clip from Youtube. You see the university and all the people around. First the king and queen arrives at the "Kings house", then the Pope Francis arrives. After that meeting they hurried up to the cathedral close by.
And yes, I really wish I was there.

This Pope has brought the church closer to people and their everyday life. His focus has been the poor and small, his focus has been reconciliation, to recognize the wounds caused both by the church and others, and speak out about the way to mend. He  has been called progressive and liberal, but there is still much to do.  He is opening up for a greater understanding, he wants to start with the importance of love between human beings, rather than moral impacts. The question of women priests, abortions, divorce, and many other theological and moral issues are being dealt with, very very slowly but in earnesty.  He has to step very carefully and not rush. But the movement is on.

The fact that he has his roots in the latinamerican context, with a background f.i as a guard, makes him easier to approach and he has shown a warm and very real interest for the life of the less fortunate and for the environment. He also has his favourite football team! 

I am not a catholic but I do think this Pope is a sign of light and strong hope for the future. His approach is warm, open and loving, he is willing to listen and he has also been very determined to clear out old skeletons from the vatican wardrobes, in order to restore faith. He has apologized to many abandoned groups of people, and he keeps doing it. 

 The world needs a church united against evil, even if we still have many unsolved problems between us. 2017 will be a year to remember what Luther really wanted to achieve and we have a responsibility to keep the church open, truthful and bright like a lantern of hope, God knows this world needs it! 
I'm not defending any of the bad things that has been done in the name of either catholics or protestants, I just wan't to see a trace of the Lords footsteps, heading through the crowds, urging us to forgive each other and keep following, together. I never claimed to hold any answers, I just wanted to write about at least one, bright and hopeful thing among all these dark and malvolent happenings hammering down on us. Hope prevails!!!

lördag 22 oktober 2016

Dennis Mukwege - a real live angel!

Dear friends!!
In these times of hatred and disaster, we can be only too happy that something turnes out right.
Yesterday, as Mozul is slowly being liberated, the churchbells where ringing for the first time in two years in one of the closest villages, now liberated from the IS hatred.
I can honestly say that I cried when I heard those bells and understood that the yazidians now can worship as they have been longing for. To be set free in your right to pray and worship is such an important way for people to mend and see hope.

There is also this blessed, blessed man, Dennis Mukwege in Kongo Kinshasa, that has sacrificed everything to help the women, some very young, to heal and mend after being raped and badly scared by the soldiers . I have mentioned him before, he is now on a visit to Sweden, and several of us have wished for years that he would get one of the Nobel prizes, the peaceprize or that of medicine. Imagine what that million could do for the Panzihospital and perhaps more.

I claim doctor Mukweges right to earn that reward. He is a true angel of God, in the shape of an ordinary doctor. He has been threatened and scared and several deathsentences has been called upon his head. He said today that there have been many occassions where he have been tempted to give up, but after praying and seing those womans joy and strenght,  he has straitened up and got back to work. 
These are two signs of joy. Otherwise, there is not much to give praise for. Today I heard about Trump and the church he belongs to. The pastor there believes in success and preaches a God that holds his hand over those who are victorious and successful. The Trumps have been members of this particular church for a long time, it seems.
I can't help but thinking about the reformed church that made apartheid possible in South Africa and the churches and theologicans that lay the platform to the nazi politics in the 1930ties.  You can obviously pick out anything you need from your own distorted point of view, in the holy scriptures. Be it the Bible or the Koran. Apparently. I suppose that is nothing new, we saw the same tendensies during the ages of the crusades.
But the word of God can't be compromised that way, he is always the same.  We are the ones to turn with the wind and use whatever is fortunate for our own course or purpose. 
I believe in the churchbells, people where crying and praising by the sound of those bells, no heart could be more alive than those of the people that heard that sound. Standing in the ruins of what used to be home, they now dare to face the future.

The woman healed in the  Panziclinic and otherwise, have taken different kinds of action, not all of them have given a peaceful answer to the liberation, some are taken to arms.
But the joy and relief and above all, the sacrificing and absolutely unselfish love and courage that this doctor and his friends have achieved, is heaven sent. Fi foe the black Queen and the demons of darkness, may they creep back into the dungeons where they belong!!  The light of the world can't be conquered, it won't yield!!! 
Yesterday I celebrated a dear dear actress that has made such an impact on my life.

Today I celebrate the patterns and traces of a Kingdom in motion , growing by the second, glowing through people who carries the light within them, fearless and loving!!!

fredag 21 oktober 2016

Carrie Frances Fisher - the brightest shining 60 year old!!! Happy birthday!!


                                   Oh, how she hated those cinnamonbuns by the ears!

Well, we don't just do memorials here, we also celebrate birthdays.
This evening we spent a couple of hours with the sweet and enchanting film Willow starring Warwick Davis, a most talented and stunninglooking actor. As we discussed the talent of short actors, we mentioned the name Kenny Baker, an actor that regrettably left us this summer, and of course slided over to his unforgettable character R2D2 that in a wink of an eye made us think about Carrie Fisher and ....oh dear if it isn't her birthday!!  She was born 21 of october 1956, daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.   Yes, I know, I didn't finish the post in time!!

There are many great actresses in this world, great for many reasons, I might add.
An actor can get us spellbound , lead us into new worlds or confront us with emotions we never knew we had. Carrie is not that brilliant glorious shining star that can take on any character and make it her own. Not yet. But she is very real, very downtoearth, very earnest. Very easy to be fond of. I have never seen a more beautiful princess in such an ugly hairdo. Her perfect timing and hilarious sense of humour gave that Leia a strenght we could admire. Not just one of those blond ,giggling , longlegged woman that covered the screen in the 70-ties, leaving the action to the tough boys. She was a hero to count on.
Here she is, selling Star Warstickets with one other great woman, Ellen Degeneres.

Now, Carrie was very pretty when she was young although she hated some of the clothes she had to wear in Star Wars. She is still a very beautiful woman, but life has been rough for her. I expect it's not always a shining highway being the child of famous parents.
In her book " Wishful drinking" she is very earnest on these matters, very personal and that is what really gets to you. She did a stage show based on the book, among other things, it was one of the best I've seen. We laughed, cried and felt ever so close to this woman. In these moments, she could have been anyones sister and we would gladly chat over a cup of coffee.  
One of the more strange characters is the one of Jake Blues's girlfriend in Blues Brothers. This is also one of those moments that you realize that actresses can be so much more than mindless bimbos, if ever you had that thought! Blues Brothers is a must, not just because of Carrie, it's the full monty. This film reminds us of two things, don't stop believing and never ever deceive a beautiful woman.

So happy birthday to you, Carrie! Brave, funny, talented, generous and smart. And as for the timing, well, look at this:

May you always be true to yourself and may we appreciate the blessings you have been given. Thank you for sharing so much!
And may you never loose that sharp mind and warm heart. May your road rise to meet you and your new year be blessed.
If you can spare ten minutes, view this clip from the stage event Wishful Drinking. And this is not only for middleaged women, my husband loved this show!
On Youtube, you'll find, as I did, hours of great material!!

söndag 16 oktober 2016

Stooormy weather in the world!!!

The world seems to be in a turmoil right now.
Adding gasoline to the fire, an army of clowns are raging and rampaging through , mostly internet, but also streets and shrubbery. Every time the world is on fire these things have a tendency of appearing, pranks turning into harassment, childplay turning into streetwar.
I can understand that people loose control and get bewildered and confused, taking the strangest actions, but we have to put a stop to this evilbetweenneighbours- events.
Now this sunday the subject was Responsibility and the appeal was to care for those unfortunate that live next to us. Sackaios in his Sycamoretree was taught a very important lesson, his life turned completely after this meeting.  We are right now surrounded by unfortunate people, that is, they are unfortunate due to causes beyond their means of stopping it. We can't stop the wars and the ungoing bloodshed, but we can make life a bit brighter and easier for our next of kin.  Once they where independent, welleducated people, with houses, cats, children, gardens , cars and boats, income and outcome, parties and schoolmeetings. 
They didn't ask for this.
But as it is, they have to cope on a strange arena, with no means of their own. Strange language, strange customs, strange culture. No space, no place, no work, no money, no identity, robbed of safety, memories, normal life, family and daily work.  Our job is to keep them safe, seen, heard, valid and worthy. We have no olives to save, no grapes in the vineyard, but we have everything they haven't.  What are borders and religion when you have a fellow human being in front of you, just asking to be seen and respected??  What will happend to our afghani boys when they send them back?  They have been promised safety, but fear drafting. Many of them can hardly read. My appeal to the EU is to drop the petty issues of trade and regulations and concentrate on solving the refugee situation.  I know, I'm ignorant as a magpie when it comes to politics, but they are millions!!! People, humans, men and women, children, sisters and brothers, grandmothers, siblings, carpenters , teachers and gardeners, yes, they are a figure in the statistics but can't be treated like you treat the tradefares. 

In my rather gloomy world autumn is raging for sure. A few roses and buds still to go, most apples have fallen, right now rain is falling and we've had stormy weather for some days, making the daily walk a rather challenging event.

One single rose....

S.t Nicholas church behind autumn leaves
Some angels flew out after St Michaels day, and decided to stay close to us!!

Lovely bunch, aren't they?? This is a very special maple, splendid in its grandeur!!
Nature sometimes takes a loopingtour for us to be enchanted by.
Low water, low flight, waves are rolling high but yesterday much higher

No more bathing and no more lying down catching smallfish and shellfish. Watch, however, the gulls in a row!!

Hanging there as a greeting from summer gone and summer to come!!

And what in heavens name is this?? Some kind of mushroom?? Covering the entire treetrunk.