17th of May- happy trails through Trondheim

IMG_5356 (853x1280)Today is our constitution day, actually our bicentennial. We are celebrating, as usual, with children’s parade, music, flags, traditional food, and traditional costumes.IMG_5376 (1280x910) We are celebrating more than ever, having used the last months for public  discussions and reminders, adding depth to the values we do promote in our Constitution. IMG_5407 (1280x853)Telling each other what we do well, where we need to improve, what we have to keep, no matter what.IMG_5411 (1024x829)

Stig and me dressed in our traditional costumes and walked into town.IMG_5416 (853x1280) We enjoyed the parade, we attended the service in the cathedral, we talked to friends, now we are at home relaxing, getting ready for dinner.IMG_5418 (1024x683) I just thought I’d show you some glimpses of our day. Celebrate freedom wherever you are!IMG_5419 (928x521)

Feeding the boys

IMG_4577 (1280x853)One sunday evening, more than 60 years ago, my grandparents went to chapel, as they did every sunday. Church in the morning and chapel in the evening. Except this sunday they were surprised to see some young soldiers attending. We’re glad you have found time to join us, they told the young boys. We would come every sunday if we could, they answered. So why can you not? They was almost ashamed to admit the truth, having to walk the sixteen kilometers made them so hungry that it was extra hard to miss the evening meal in camp. No  buses, no cafe and no meal from noon to next morning, hard.

I am sure my grandmother laughed and was surprised that this could be a problem. Of course you’ll join us for supper!

And of course you are welcome to do so every sunday, and of course you may bring your friends! And they did. From then on a steady flow of sandwiches, kringle, coffee and lemonade sustained young soldiers, year after year. My mother and her sisters grew up having lots of big “brothers” from all over the country. When my parents took over this service, I grew up having lots of big “brothers” to play with. And my gran kept baking kringle, sending them by the bus in the morning, so my mother could keep up feeding the boys.

IMG_4581 (1280x853)Some weeks ago, my aunt gave me my grandmothers recipe book. As many housewives of her day she had a year training at a household academy, and carefully wrote down everything they were taught. Through all her years these were the only recipes she used. As for me, I have several shelves of books on cooking, as well as her kringle recipe. I have her coffee sets, as well as several others. I have a much bigger house. I have much more money. Neither of that will bring the blessings my grandmothers suppers brought.

To me, I pray for the wisdom to leave the big plans, and just do the small service in front of me, with a laugh, with an open heart, one step and one kringle at the time.

 

Silver, books or food?

IMG_4193These last weeks I have been reading two books, in norwegian, written by daughters, clearing out their mother’s home. Some years ago my siblings and I did that too, a chore that is something quite else, more like an initiation rite.
Going through item after item, trash and treasures, and deciding;
This you must leave, to grow to what you are to become,
this you may keep, to stay true to who you are,
this you may finally get rid of,
this is not yours to have,
all the time knowing it is only things.
The lesson that could be taken is: “These things are not what your mother left you, but what is, and what is worth keeping?”

One of the authors used the lost Franklin expedition to reflect on what we cherish. The  real story about  John Franklin and his men getting lost while searching for the Northwest passage in 1845 is still a mystery. Actually a new theory was launched as late as this january. What is known though is that these starving, lost men, pulled their sleds, hoping for salvation, but still throwing away essentials to make their burden lighter. The Inuits and the rescue parties have found tins of food, medical supplies and crucial tools left along the last route. They must have been giving in to despair, realizing all hope was lost. And then, perhaps not, the last things to be ditched were monogrammed silver cutlery and a novel. Why?

IMG_4444I found my copy of the book, The Vicar of Wakefield, and read it through, to understand why and when it would be better than food. I am not sure, what do you think?

To me the real eye opener is not how these lost men prioritized though. The more serious question is of course my own choices, not only when it comes to material belongings,or food versus books, what about relations, obligations, work, beliefs?

When I let something go, what guides my choosing? When I decide to keep on to something, will it really keep me up to the end?

Thirst by Mary Oliver

Pat always shares poems or quotes that gives me a new insight, while also resonating with something in my soul. Is that not always so, we can only understand the answer if the question already lives in our heart.

OPreach

The pond God has given us The pond God has given us


Another morning and I wake with thirst

for the goodness I do not have.
I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has


given us such beautiful lessons.
Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked


and hunched over my books past the hour

and the bell; grant me, in your mercy,
a little more time.

Love for the earth
and love for you are having such a long


conversation in my heart.
Who knows what
will finally happen or where I will be sent,


yet already I have given a great many things

away, expecting to be told to pack nothing,

except the prayers which, with this thirst,

I am slowy learning.



— Mary Oliver, Thirst,
  Beacon Press, Boston, 2006, pp. 1, 52, 69

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What you do not find, is still there

Hidden threats

Hidden threats

After dinner I went back to the business lounge to finish my report for the day. I was very comfortable, in a red velvety wing chair, with a cup of steaming coffee and my iPad. But I was not hidden.

In comes a group of business people. They occupy the next table, get coffee and open their laptops. At first I do not listen to their strategies, they are planning how to present their added value to their client next day, which is what business is always about. Even when one of them says  to the young and aspiring one ” remember added value is not supposed to cost us anything”, I am not surprised. He does continue though,” it is all about giving them something that is understood by their customers as added value, when in truth it they are not given what they pay for.” This makes me listen.

I am still not hidden, I am not eavesdropping, as this experienced executive is sitting a yard away from me, talking loud and clear.

Rotten is rotten, even if the view is nice

Rotten is rotten, even if the view is nice

Then they compare their notes and slides and statistics, concluding that their best chance of closing the deal is to present their business client with an IT system that hides as many consumer rights as possible. The consumer that orders something through this site will then give up before discovering their legal rights. The consumer is not cheated, as the truth is still there. As an added bonus, this program could also make the order appear as it was processed at an earlier date than it was, thus giving the customer less time to file his claim. They even discussed the possibility of selling things the customer could not possibly use, as connecting flights before your first flight has landed, and then keep some of the fare. They did not go there though, not to protect the customer, but  it was not really legal, or was it?

I was still not hiding, there was no way they could not see me, smell my coffee or hear me drinking it. Even so, they did not think their plans was worth hiding.

I did not discover what firm this was, except that they were americans. I do not know who they were meeting the next day. I slowly discovered a chilling truth though, I think they did not bother to hide, because they thought every business person would think like them. They were not divulging secrets, but showing off their business acumen.They knew their client, and knew the possibility of holding truth and rights away from their customers was indeed added value.

I was not impressed, and even if I was not hiding I do not think they realized that I left. By then they were too busy toasting to the success of tomorrow.

What I do know though is that truth is still truth, even if it is hidden. I also know that no amount of that kind of added value will be worth the lack of trust in businesses that implements systems to cheat their customers.

In earlier days bakers added a roll to your order of a dozen, just to not risk the death penalty of selling less than paid for.

Rolls are easy to count,  but how do we count what we do not see, and do not know that we should be looking for? There is no use to blame the systems, they are all made by people like you and me. There is no use to blame the law, at least in Norway customers are protected, if they only know what to look  and ask for.

The client could refuse of course, which I hope they did. The customers could be more wary, investigating their rights and insisiting on truths, as I do. Not only for my own sake, but to stir up routines on behalf of those who do not know they may. We all could be more wary, not trusting each other. We could demand more government control, compliance systems and ethical regulations.

Or we could encourage each other to voice our concern, to make heard the stories of companies doing success by being fair, we could dare to challenge each other and hold each other accountable. Not only to a legal framework, but to the ethical choices we need to take to make the world better for everyone. It is still all about doing as you would be done to, isn’t it?

Roots in a bottle

IMG_4026I was on my way to a meeting in the charming old part of Bergen. Even as I was running late, I had my camera. Coming towards me was this old woman. Leaning heavily on her cane, labouring her way uphill.

We met midway. She paused, and of course I stopped, to see if there was anything I could do for her. Was she exhausted, was she ill?

She barely threw me a glance and bent down, poked her cane in the bushes and found a hamburger wrapping and a squashed bottle. She picked them up, went over to the trash-can outside the nearest house and threw it in.

Then she walked on.

I once had great grandparents and grandparents like that. They all taught by example how the tiny deeds always adds up to more that big thoughts. I just had forgotten. With my head in the clouds and my mind in my plans I had walked straight by a chance to keep this tiny street beautiful.

I trust I will be given more chances, and I know it is not only about trash in the bushes, but in all our doings. The one step taken is more important than the thousands just planned.

What about you? What is your tiny step today?

The crooked path to truth

IMG_3781We arrive at the mall, and head for the entrance.

For some reason I am always there first, my friend last, and every time she is just as surprised as last time. And no, it is not because I want to go there most. The secret is that I am easily distracted by small things, though never from my goal. She is never distracted by anything, she just waits for it to pass. So I dart here and there, avoid cars and people and weave my way towards my goal. While she stops and waits when somebody gets in her way, never wavering a yard from her true path.

It does not really matter of course, who comes first to a mall. I do try to apply my whimsical walks to other paths of life though.

What if I, discussing truth, life, death, the big questions, am so sure of the right path and just forces my way to my chosen solution?

What if I, not heeding any hinders, just insists on what the best course is?

Or, what happens in real life, when we stop the considering other people as hindering us from our set path, and see each other as our only way of discovering our true path?