Faith without google

heavenly cellThe ceiling was white from sulphur deposits. The walls had nine oblong caves, big enough to lie down in, but never raise from. In between the bigger holes were numerous tiny ones. Hardly big enough to stuff the body of a child into. We were fourteen people, pressing close to the walls, around a stone slab, covered in white, with four candles burning. It was the day of All Saints. We were deep in the catacombs, in silence, taking a moment to remember.

Then our guide, a priest from the Philippines told us a story. “I had a group of students here some days ago,” he said, “and I asked them: what is faith?

In an instant all of them had their phones out, but soon had to put them down. There’s no signal, I do not know, one of them said.”

“I invite you too take the time to know what’s written in your heart, to respond to this sacred space”, he continued, “and then answer yourself: what is faith?”

We were older, we were not invited to answer out loud, we cherished the silence. Even so, who knows what we had done if only our phones had been working?1.11.15 tente lys, alle helgen

The moment to say no

FredssenterI was enjoying the afternoon sun at a street cafe just outside the Nobel Peace center in Oslo. My husband was fetching coffee. It was peaceful, I shut my eyes and enjoyed the calm, the warmth of the sun, the luxury of a leisurely afternoon.

I woke up by someone swatting with a newspaper, I looked around, and saw a woman hitting another, a gypsy beggar, with a rolled up newspaper. The gypsy woman was standing close to a couple on a neighboring table, shaking a paper-cup, not saying anything. At first I thought the attacking lady was chasing a wasp or something away from the poor woman, then I heard her: “go away, we do not like the likes of you around here!”

Instantly the couple got up, left their coffee and started to leave the cafe. “Are you leaving then?”, the indignant, paper-wielding woman said. “Oh yes, “the man said, “we do not want to be seen near the likes of you.”

This rumpled the norwegian lady, she made some grumbling noises and left too.

It was all over in a couple of seconds. I could hardly believe it had happened. But the rolled up paper was still on her table.

It was all over in a couple of seconds, the shame of it has lived with me for a week. Not as much that a fellow citizen acted on her prejudices, but that I was not quick enough. That I was not brave enough, that my values had not propelled me into action, but into bewilderment and fear. The moment to say” no” had come and gone, and I had not said anything. This time, somebody else did. What if they had not?

Just up the street we passed the Gestapo headquarters during the 2nd world war. What happens when nobody dares to be the one to say no?

Victoria terrasse

How does your heart sound?

sommerfugl med gresstråI was having an ultra sound of my heart last week. As I biked down to the hospital and were feeling well, I did not expect anything to be the matter. Just a follow-up to search for scars of the adventures of last fall. Even so, being examined, on a table, with all kinds of equipments attached to my body, makes me attentive. What if there is something to find, and they overlook it?

I felt myself stretching my mind and ears to listen, to know. I did not hear anything, at least not the pitter-patter of a tiny heart. Then I realized, for the first time I had an ultrasound where I was not supposed to listen for a baby’s heartbeat. Only then did I hear that my own heart had been swishing and swooshing healthily along all the time. For the first time in my life I literally listened to my heart.

If that took some getting used to, what with the heartbeat of our souls? As I biked on into town I wondered, how do we make ourselves attentive, to listen, and to alter the course when the core of our being is not in rhythm? Most of our life, it is, sometimes though we are so busy listening for, adjusting to, and taking care of the hearts of everybody else, that nobody is left to listen for us, and why should they? If we can take care of others, should we not be able to take care of ourselves?

Ultimately, to me happiness is found in community, in serving, in togetherness. I also know that my responsibility is to serve where I do not make myself a martyr, but where the joy of my heart wells forth. Swishing and swooshing. I’ll be listening for that.

gjemt bak engel

The happy blues of new worries

bjørkeskogI am exceptionally good at spotting a worry. I am not a master of letting go of my worries though.

Last Sunday we were hiking the mountains around our cabin. The intense sunshine made the Monkshood flowers sparkle like agate on the hillside. As I walked on I wondered, as they are so beautiful, so plentiful, and totally dominating the alpine meadows, how could I not have dozens of photos of them?

sau og lamThen an ewe stopped in the middle of the path, her little lamb hiding ( and having some milk) behind her, and suddenly I knew. As the monkshood, or wolf’s bane, are extremely poisonous, I have eyed them as potential dangers, protecting my children, worrying.

I almost laughed as I realized how many years I have been walking these woods since our kids needed that kind of guidance. Still, I had not taken time to de-clutter my bag of worries!

Tyrihjlm og gjevilvatnetAs cliffs, as waves, as dark woods and lonely walks – not my worry any more, they can handle it.

Which sets me free to marvel at the colors, to be amazed at the canyons, to be impressed by the force of the ocean, to enjoy the enchanted dark forests, all for my self.

KorsknappOur Sunday walk became a treasure hunt for the other happy dots of blues coloring the woods, my Sunday pondering made me think, what other outdated worries or problems keep me from seeing the blessings and beauty in my everyday walk?

And then of course, the son who does not run after a ball into the street anymore, now rides a Harley..

Someone said that worries grow with the children. I’d better not carry any useless worries around then. Come to think of it, perhaps they all are?



What did you love?

Renndølsetra 7There comes a time to most of us, at forty five? Fifty? We seem bewildered in our own lifes, and do not seem to recognize the landscape we are in as the one we set out to find.

Which could be good, life is full of surprises. Even immovable and unsurpassable mountains turn out to have secret doors.

If you find yourself hammering at this mountain trying all the sesam-sesams you are able to imagine while no one works, you might see a coach or read a “Your dream will become true” book.

They will both ask you to remember: “what did you love to do as a kid, what do this love tell you about who you are?”

liten solveig med kanneMost of us are not able to pinpoint the passion of our youth though, we loved a lot of things. I, for instance, loved to sit in the windowsill of my room, watch the roaming fields and read, as well as building playhouses in the woods and running tracks. I would not want to make either into a living.

Perhaps we are blind to the truth all around us? I need to turn this question upside down. Instead of starting the hunt for loves and likes and happiness, I stop now and then and see what I have been doing, even if I had no time for it. What my soul is drawn to and need to do, then I make room for thatstjerneskjerm

Then I take a step back now and then and consider the output of what I have done and what I haven’t done, what did I learn to do it better next time? I have found that the answer to middle age confusion is not necessarily to do something else, but to know the essence of what you do and why.

hvit peonI think the road to middle age wisdom is to learn the lessons from the road we have travelled, and know how to apply our understanding and wisdom to every task, every challenge, every opportunity  life gives us. Mostly.  If we are on the wrong road, no amount of putting mind and soul to the task will set us right. It would be bad though if we actually are on track, but so busy comparing gear and GPS readings that we never get around to enjoy it.

hvit alliumI tried this exercise in my garden today. I already know I need to be there, though I was not really aware of what I have been doing all these years.

Now I know. I have been planting white plants. I have taken care that the sunlight gets to play through the petalshvit rose I have given every flower room to grow and thrive. I have been steadily and unvaryingly watering, tending and working to create place for joy asolveig med vannkannand peace. Hopefully that is what I do wherever else I am too.

And yes I love it, still.

Instant Bliss- planned for years

billedholmen 1On the highway from the airport one may get a glimpse of the sea and a tiny island, often bathed in exceptional light, the reflexes from the high sky and the wide expanse of water.

I always look out for it, expecting beauty. When in a taxi, I always remark on it, and mostly we start talking of the lovely views from the airport and into town.

When driving I stop, and get a quick shot out of the window, almost every time.

billedholmen 2I did not know until this summer that the island had a name, Billedholmen, ( the Picture Island) that you could go there, and that this is a special habitat for several plants and birds.

Last night, on our way back from my fathers birthday party, we found the parking lot, the almost hidden pathway under the highway and walked the rocky path along the ocean.

Every turn on the road revealed magic. Almost there, we had to stop, the rocks were to big to climb. ( or our party shoes were not up to the task). We sat for a while though, a moment of peace, bliss and beauty.

We will be back – with other shoes.

Billedholmen 4

The little garden in the mountains

start innerdalenMy daughters and my husband went for a hike, and came back totally enthralled with their day. “You simply have to go, you will love it!”, they said.

And so a year went by.

Then Kristin visited from the US and we needed I nice place to go, why don’t we go where you went last year? I suggested, and so we did.

InnerdalstårnetInnerdalen has been a hub for mountaineering for more than a hundred years. Even to us, who only hiked the trails, it was breathtaking, beautiful, amazing.

We found a lodge, had lunch, poked around, took pictures, and went back. Then I found my love!

renndølsetra klesvaskAt first, I saw an old mountain farm, Renndølsetra. Cows grassing, hens walking in the tall grass, clothes on the line, a charming place where you may stay for the night, rent boats, have a meal.

Renndølsetra 6 hageWe took deep breaths, and oohed and awed as we strolled the meadows. Then I turned a corner and came upon the perfect garden. Tiny, 5×5 meters, fenced to keep the cow out, a door leading into the kitchen, a small table, a book on the table, a cat sleeping on the doorstep. No lawn, of course, vegetables, salads, herbs in raised wooden beds.

Renndølsetra 5 hageI just ached to jump the fence, pick some leaves and go help getting dinner ready….or even weed a little!

Why did I wait a year to go there?

Renndølsetra 10