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måndag 27 juni 2016

Pieces of a countryside and its history

Good evening!
As I write this, the poor English footballteam just got beaten by the ferocious men from the foreign Iceland.  Who would have thought it? I'm sorry lads but now we are even,  the swedish team wasn't all that succesfull either were they? Roy Hodgson used to live in Malmoe and train the boys in MFF, those were good years!!  Please Britain, go easy on the lads!!

This post will have no political impact whatsoever, I just took a couple of good walks around the countryside close and some miles away. It's nowhere near the wonderful scenery of Wales or Scotland or Portugal or....but its home. Not my native , homedistrict, but the place where we have been staying for twenty years now!  Let's start!

There is something very special about stone. Stonewalls, stonehenges, stonepillars, rocks broken in half . Look at this tree trunk closing up to the stonewall, both looking sturdy and ancient, supporting eachother.
Quiet villagelife? Well, we do have a few hooligans roaming the quiet paths, making noice and nuisance for everyone. In august, the silence is broken for several days of Jazzfestival.

We have at least seven of these small villages, all with their own harbour , some of them rather large with businesses and marinas, shops and restaurants, some very very small with just one bridge or launch and a small beach. From Nogersund we take the ferry out to Hanö. This small island has about 10 locals year around, but in the summertime that will double and triple up just as in all the other villages. Our village keeps around 800 inhabitants wintertime.

On the island, no cars are allowed, you go around by bike or moped. Or walk. Of course there is a lighthouse and old stories connected with the island, about dragons f.i. Here the proud English fleet landed a few hundred years ago and we have a small english churchyard that some officers come and visit at jubilees. These occasions are indeed very festive and solemn. Every year they invite to a special day when we hold a service in the open, food is being served, lotteries are held, music is played, museeums are opened and everyone is engaged. Two more services a year we celebrate in the small chapel, since I suffer from severe seasickness, I fear the one held at wintertime when the sea is eager to bring me down.

This is an ancient kind of anchorplace, launch, called kås. Many of these are still in use for the smaller boats, rowboats and small outboards. Children take their rods and nets and stand on the rocks to fish shrimps and sticklebacks to feed the cats. If you go further out with your boat you might get cod or garfish. But the scenery is quite magical, don't you think?
Leaving the old fishingvillages and heading for the real countryside, I catch the sun setting over the fields. This looks very dark and late but actually...  the picture below was taken only five minutes later. Here the old 15thcentury villagechurch behind its old stonewalls. Lanterns are still lit inside after tonights service.

See, rock of ages....the mossy stonefence belonging to the farm nearby and the more straight stonefence in masonryfashion almost. I just had to take them both in to make a frame to St Gertrud, as is the churchs name. Between these to walls the farmer runs his tractors and tools.

Close by the forest offers small openings of sunshine to brighten up the gloomy vegetation underneath the canopy.

Oh yes, and we back out of the woods only to find ourselfes in the middle of turnips growing. My parish is split in half, farmers and fishermen. In the old days, being a farmer was equal to prosperity and a strong voice in village council while the fishermen lived in bad houses, shacks only in some cases, had many children and drowned in bad boats, leaving widows caring for the perhaps twelve children. Today those beachplots and old houses are being purchased in terms of millions. If only those hardworking fishermen could have lived to see this!  The farmers today have a hard time and keeping livestock is a risky business. The milkfarmers are giving up, one by one. Sweden has a large import on both meat and dairy. 

Still, small dairies are working their way up again, both with cowmilk and goatsmilk. 
In the summertime and way in to autumn we can go around the local farmers, buying their crops from sheds by the road, putting our money in old cookiejars. They sell everything from meat to eggs, strawberries and pumpkins, apples and carrots, jam and pickles. 

But the ocean is always present , this is the coast of Åhus, some miles from where I live. Our beaches are somewhat calmer than this one, here the water is cold and the waves would fit the Beach Boys brilliantly. I did not go in!

The pinetree was imported from Germany in the 18th century and planted along the coastal line since we used up so many trees for building. The sand was evading fast and had to be stopped from spreading everywhere but where it was supposed to be. The pines and the sand today form a very special kind of environment that we call sandforrest. 
I'm closing with another look at the sunset over the turnips,  outside our house the wind has calmed in the trees. Time to sleep. Goodnight and God bless!

lördag 25 juni 2016

Midsummernights dream????

And a blessed day to you all!!
In Sweden, as in many places up north, this season, the brightest day of the year, we have been celebrating since the middleages. Not in this fashion, but celebrating. Friends on Ireland tells about bonfires on St Johns day. Well, we are not all heathens up here but the connection with John the baptist have gone missing , I'm afraid. The date of celebration, 23 of june, was kept until 1952 when the unions wanted a more convenient day . The result was that Midsummereve always occurs on a friday , having Midsummersday moving around 19-23 of june. The so called Maypole, shaped nowadays as a cross with flowered rings, intially came from Germany in the late middleages, at the time just a pole, no cross. The bonfires were lit for quite a long time, but today we don't. All bonfires are lit at Valborg!!  These pictures are all taken yesterday in our village, the flowered cross is a good example of engagement and good neighbours. Local talents handle the fiddle, the accordion and the guitar, singing and playing old folkloredances, not, however, the ones discribed by the monks in late middleages....

Strawberries in vast quantities are consumed during this weekend, with creem, icecreem or in pies and cakes. But the most important item on the dinnertable is the herring, pickled in a very special way to fit the swedish taste for salty fish. Most popular is the Matjessill, served with fresh potatoes, sourcreme and chive. Together with beer and several small glasses of flavoured vodka, so called snaps, yes the very same in german!! Unfortunately, this weekend is known for its severe drinking.
At its best, you can spend many bright hours outdoors with friends and family, way into midnight, only disturbed by mosquitos and the smoke from 110 barbecuemasters in 110 surrounding gardens.
Last night gave us such a clear sky, only to turn into turmoil some hours later when the thunderstorm returned. There will be more of that they say....
We spent the day with the neighbours and the traditional strawberrycake you see in the picture, dancing in the village and then travelling a few miles to other friends, the herring, the potatoes, the next strawberrycake and some good laughs and lots of singing in the sunset.
In the gardens the swedish flag flies by the summerbreeze, there was hardly any this day and the dance was a swetty experience. May of our newcommers stood amazed in the shadow, watching the peculiar swedes jumping around like mad, crying out noices to imitate frogs, pigs, old ladies, fiddles and rockets. Since midsummer in folklore is connected with magic, many of the dances are about meeting the right one. In the bright night the girls are to pick seven wild flowers to put under the pillow, in order to dream about the husband to be. There also was a tradition of walking seven times around a well in the middle of the night to see him. Keeping the flowers and put them in the christmas bath would make you strong.... oooh dear! Well, many of the children from all over the world joined in the dancing being rewarded with lots of laughter and an icecreamcone.
With any luck, you can watch real professional dancers like these from Orsa in the county of Dalarna. The musicians are called Orsa spelmanslag, often being heard with Benny Andersson, like in the video underneath this first one.

Benny Andersson from Abba takes great pleasure in creating new folkloremusic!

Today we relax in the garden, awaiting the eveningservice in church, always surrounded by that very typical and somewhat melancholic swedish music. I will add two examples that I associate with summer and especially this time of the year. For the poor St John however, we have no really catchy tunes. Hymns we have one or two, but somehow the very thought of him makes people either frown or look bewildered. The great mission he had is not to be forgotten, so even if I really love both the music, the strawberries and the herring, I feel strongly about him. Such an important burden to carry, such courage to be the voice that calls in the desert!!! Blessed be St John indeed, making way for the Saviour!!! 

torsdag 23 juni 2016

In charge again!!

Dear friends!!
Midsommer is closing up and I will tell you all about it this weekend. The truth is that the charger to my computer got lost and I had to order a new one, probably from the equatorial africa since it was delivered after short of an eternity. But now I'm on again, it feels good actually.
While I was waiting the election of brexit and bremain has taken focus of the political arena.
The fact is that no one knows what will happend if the UK decides to leave the EU.
I can understand the need to make ones own decisions but we are in this together, no man is an island and no country stands isolated from others. If that was so, why bother at all??
I agree that there has been moments when I really truelly wondered why we should follow the decisions taken at Brussels when they so badly fit in to our way of thinking, but isn't that what it s all about??  The hardest lesson we learn is that of understanding other peoples ways of thinking.
If I take for granted that my way f thinking is the only possible way, where would that leave me?

Since the world is changing in quite a rapid way, we need to change with it, perhaps our solutions won't hold and then we have to look for others. Cooperation and genuine diplomacy does force us in to a corner, and we have to decide whether to bark and bite because that is what we do, or to back up and leave the arena allowing other voices to be heard.
I sit often with all these people who are called problems and are mentioned in figures and not by names. Very soon they become friends and not refugees, and we get involved in their lives and worries just as we would any other neighbour.
Lets face it: they are just like us!   In the 1700th century, swedish people abandoned driedout lands and povetystriken areas, selling all they had for a ticket to America. Some survived and got a good life overthere, some didn't. We had no war or threats to face, but starvation was close at hand.
Britain needs its own voice and  their own decisions and some, I hear, are afraid of what this  vast amount of immigrants will do to the country.
As we speak, there is a ferry being anchored up north in Sweden, close to a village with some 300 inhabitants and 150 newcommers. They have been working around the clock to make this work.
When the authorities now want's this boat with 1800 refugees to anchor in their village they say:
Well, we already are involved deeply with the 150 that arrived last years, and can we manage so many moore?
On the other hand, they say, maybe this will bring us the petrolstation, the school, the library that we need. You see, they say, it's a great pleasure with these people, but we ARE tired!!

The world is collapsing, it seemes. We have to slow down and listen to the reasons of the heart, what the good Lord is telling us, being in the middle of crisis that craves our attention.
I wish my british friends the best of luck and above all: go to the votingcentres with your hearts right open and your minds set on "love thy neighbour". I only know that the brexitchoice will implore pressure upon the other members, Sweden included. No one really has a clue, it is indeed untouched ground.
Now we are heading for Midsummer, one of the greatest holidays in Sweden, known for a solid amount of herring and vodka in all shapes.I promise to add some very spectacular pictures here this weekend, so my non-swedish readers will get a fair chance to learn the ancient, swedish traditions!!

As I was missing from this site, many of things escaped my attention . I will just pop in and hope you haven't forgotten all about me. Pictures will be taken, videos with any luck.

More important is that the confirmationservice will be held on sunday and the 28 youngsters are getting quite excited!!

 We will dance and sing on Midsummereve and make serious attemps on being serious about midsummers message: Gods creation!! The issue however, on this sunday, is John the baptist. Now, how popular can you bee, being visible just when needed, being a nuisance to many when preaching?

Thank you all for being suck a sturdy lot, letting things take its time.
I'll be back with some serious halfwayyear - thinking.
God bless!!

Best wishes and blessings to uou all

onsdag 8 juni 2016

Anniversary - 20 years ago!


Today, 20 years ago, 8 young ministers where ordained in the cathedral of Lund, by bishop
KG Hammar, who a couple of years later became archbishop and moved to Uppsala.
 In Sweden, at the time, the candidates spent a year of ministrystudies in either Lund or Uppsala. Since the choice of university was free, we had students from other dioces, hence the last post. They went on to their own cathedrals, we have 13 dioces in the church of Sweden.
 Most of us had been studying for five years and more. Since I had began ministry as deacon, I had yet some more years in my luggage. I served five years as a deacon.

This last year was filled with friendship , travelling ( we went to Prague and Uppsala ), countless of hours with books , countless of services in the cathedral and other churches, praying, singing, arguing, practising, listening to our experienced teachers, comparing our own lifes and choices in the light of Gods grace.

Bishops from the other dioces came to visit their candidates, our bishop came to see us. Of course there had been a meeting back in time, days filled with interviews to make certain you knew what you were up to. Some didn't pass those interviews, that could be painful.
So at last, after a few days of retreat, dinner with the bishop and the last arrangements around the solemn and festive service, we were ready to take our vows and step into the realm of clergy.
The day dawned with shimmering sunlight and the cathedral was filled to the brim, we were all nervous and apprehensive, but happy, heading for the south portal.
By our side we each had an assistant, mine was the minister at our wedding, three years earlier.

And so the bells chimed from the two towers. The procession was long and powerful , there where choirs singing, the organ was loud and mighty, we were happy and proud to say our YES to all the questions and somewhat nervously read our vows out loud. After ordination our assistants dressed us in liturgical clothing and then we spread out in the church to celebrate communion with the congregation, mostly family and friends but also the ordinary parishioners since the dome is their parishchurch.
The vicars of the receiving parishes were present, you spend one year in a parish chosen for you, not of your own choice. After that first year you are free to apply anywhere, but only a ministry, not vicarage.  Vicar you can become after a few years, and nowadays, a few more months of studies. I was to be serving in the parish of Sölvesborg, Blekinge so we had to move.
It was a good year, filled with impressions, meetings, high expectations and some disappointments. Friendships were made, still lasting. 

I truelly hope no one takes offence by my pictures, There wasn't much to choose from and I really wanted to share this moment with you. I am happy to be serving as a minister in this church, grateful for the trust, the confidence, to carry the gospel out to people, grateful to be intrusted with so many things of such importance, taking part of peoples lifes in joy and sorrow. Trying the best I can to bear witness in word and deed. Carried by grace.
The gathering two weeks ago was joyful indeed, to meet again. Today there will be a gathering for us ordained in Lund.  
If you click the film below you can enjoy the cathedral and also take part of what happends in every church of Sweden in general, and the cathedral especially.
On our way, the Lords people are always on the move
The shepherd walks behind us , to protect. The cross is carried in front together with the standar of Lund, the gridiron of St Lawrence.

Oh, we are in the highchancel!!

Well, dressed in black we are ready to take on the world, I know my caftan looks borrowed, I lost a good many kilos and forgot to tell the tailor.......

Trustworthy and sincerelooking, hopefully.

Not the news of the world but there we are!

For me, however, the journey began 7 years earlier, in Ersta church, Stockholm, where I was ordained deacon by bishop Bengt Wadensjö. 

If you are wondering, do they really use those mysterious huts? No no,
not anymore but once they all did, and they never used any personal clothes after
the ordination. We were among the last to be dressed and ordained this way.