I did not get to play

I was four, going alone to a birthday party for the first time. New dress, pleated hair with white ribbons, white tights and shiny shoes, I could hardly wait for the party to start. Half an hour later I was back home, went straight into my room and started to play with my building blocks. What happened? My parents were worried, they kept asking for some days,and I still did not answer. 


Half a year later I was building with my blocks again, in another town, another house, living next to other people. Then I looked up at my mother and said quite calmly, “I did not get to play with her toys”. It took some seconds before anyone knew what I was referring to, they all had forgotten.

These days, I am getting closer to my answer on this year’s puzzling question: what did you do and why? So many people say that when they learn that I have had a serious illness and surgery this spring. I have made some polite and correct answers, as I am no longer four. I know though that only recently am I getting closer to understand my own reactions. I needed months to be able to reflect on and not only live through this troublesome times. I am still me, I act fast and think slow.


I have learned, again, that when in trouble I still return to my basic building blocks. I have come to see that what I do when a crisis looms is who I really are. These are the tools I have sharpened in good, untroubled, sunny days which gives me rest, joy and strength in stormy times. 

So what did I do? The first night I went into a new bookstore, and came home with soothing titles and lovely stories. Strangely enough I did not start reading though, I just put them in the bag I planned to take to hospital. 

I need reading like I need air.

Then I bought the most beautiful notebook, for the next weeks I made notes of every song I was reminded of, every Bible word I read that was special to me.

I need a comforting blanket of blessings, ready to wrap around my soul in the days I know will be hard.

It was still February, and I filled my window with spring flowers.

 I was worried I would not see another spring, and knew I had to make one myself to believe in growth and new life.


I bought the loveliest blue and white China I know.I have wished for it since we got married 35 years ago, but always made myself think they were too expensive.

I know my heart leaps when I see something beautiful, I need to let my heart rejoice in every beauty given us in this world.

I sorted through all my fabrics, and made ready kits for all the ideas I have postponed. 

I know I have to create something to be happy.

I sorted through and shredded the content of rows upon rows of binders.

I had to make room for new things to happen.


I saved all cards and greetings, and took photos of all the flowers my dear ones sent me.

I knew I needed to be reminded of the outpouring of love and comfort I was given.

I made orange marmalade and lemon curd. I made homemade bread.

I know how I truly relax when putting my feet up, sharing a meal with someone dear to me.


I stayed close to my husband, talking and wondering, sharing information, cherishing memories.


I tried to think of a letter to write to my children, and found one should never postpone saying how much we love each other. Everything else is just words.

This is who I am, these are the tools I am given and know how to use, and I did.

Why? When life was threatened, I did not need to do what I had not done, I needed to reassure myself that I have had a life filled with the grace of God, the love of my family and friends, the gift of beauty and the joy of creating.

I am healing, I have been given new possibilities. I am stronger and happier than ever. I know I did get to play after all.

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

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?

Tyrihjelm

 

Time and tide- and the truth about life

IMG_3331 clear view 7januar

Because of the tilt of the moon on its axis, at the equinox the sun appears to be over the equator, and if there is a new or full moon at about the same time then all the forces contrive to create the highest of high tides. If the moon is also at perigee, closest to the earth in its orbit, then that will produce the biggest tides of all, the King tides.

In short, when the pull of the water is at its most extreme, we get to see what is at the bottom. We experienced this last January in California.

Where we thought there were sandy banks, there is pointy, jarred cliffs and stones. Where we had only seen dolphins, whales, pelicans and seals dominating the seas, we could now see the teeming myriads of life. Anemones, shells, urchins, crabs,schools of tiny fish, actually what really sustains the big life forms. But only at the extreme tides.

Tidepooling and marveling I got to thinking, isn’t that what happens to us humans too? After a big holiday we do not always feel refreshed, actually sometimes a bit washed out. An old norwegian saying is that you do not know a person until you have tried to divide an inheritance with him. I would phrase that differently, you do not know another person until you see what turns up in times if extreme stress. And then, why should I allow their worst behavior to be the truth about anyone?

Just now I am using crutches due to a minor injury. Absolutely not anything serious, but adding stress, more that I would like to allow. My workload is pretty extreme, and all the nice things that I normally do in-between are not done. Tidying, watering, weeding, baking, straightening. No way. Our home, my garden, my desk and myself is at King tide indeed.

Is that how life really is? When I saw all the tiny creatures crawling and sprawling, longing for water to cover them again. I realized this, we thought we saw life as it really was, while in truth we saw what we were not supposed to see. As among us humans, when life appear chaotic, why not add some slack to our judgement?

As I want to be judged as I am when I am at my best, why is it so difficult to allow that grace in my judgement of others? Why not wait for the tides to roll back?

 

IMG_3315 tidepool life 7januar

Do you really care?

2014-07-31 at 04-59-58I was tired, coming into my hotel late at night, the hotel who has big signs all over their walls saying “We care”.
I was walking through endless corridors where slogans, like “you are finally here”, were painted on the floor.
I stumbled into my room, to discover that it was stuffy, tiny and dark.
I went to open the window, and looked straight into a corridor.
I tried to adjust the air-condition, but there was none.
I did not even sit down at the minuscule desk while I called the reception. I was right, there was no way to adjust the airflow, and there was no other room to be had. The receptionist was kind and tried to be helpful,but he could do nothing. I did not even think it was funny when I saw the folder announcing the values of this chain, “with energy, courage and enthusiasm, we create a better world.” I sat down to search for another hotel nearby, one where you could breath, one with two sockets so you could recharge both the phone and the computer, one where you could walk around the bed without getting stuck. I had to give in. No rooms to be had, and I was too tired to  go out for dinner, so I just went to bed. Bad night.

2014-07-31 at 05-08-53Next morning I had a cold and a headache when I went down for breakfast. As I passed the front desk, the receptionist called me. “I am so sorry I could not help you last night, thanks for being so patient” and “I’ll find you something better tonight”. And he did, and I slept well, and I had a nice chat with him, and I guess I’ll stay there again. I can not help but wonder though, how much nicer it would have been if the building, the technical installations, and the very booking system showed that they really cared? The people were doing their best, but the bricks and stones got in the way for their very best. Sometimes we have to do with what we got, but why would you give your employees a bad hand just to make it harder to make something good?

I ended up having a good time. I was cared for.
Thanks to the people who were not only repeating slogans but trying to live them.

The pictures are from the old church at Lom, the true test on integrity, to do what we say we believe.

The hotel made it in the end, so I will not tell you where it was. I’d rather question myself: where, when, how or even if, do I do what I say I will do?

2014-07-31 at 03-25-14

Have another look

IMG_7414 (1280x1030)Last weekend I joined a photowalk in my own hometown Trondheim. A two hour stroll along a stretch less than a mile, the theme Contrasts.

I know those streets.

IMG_7416 (1280x853)

I have shared photos from these walks for years.

My family has walked on the same cobblestones for a century.

IMG_7409 (1280x818)And yet, always something new, even when everything is old.

Always something I have never seen, even if I have seen it all.

IMG_7362 (1280x1079)Could it be that way with people too? Do we ever take the time to really look for something new in the people we love or in the people we see every day?

IMG_7425 (1280x1042)What would we find if we spent two hours concentrating on seeing another side of the persons, the conflicts, the situations, the very life that we think we know?

IMG_7370 (1280x853)