Text: Matias Lahti
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
One summer day, driving home from work, I listened to the summertime service radio. The speaker was talking about Moses’ birth. As I was listening, the story of Moses came alive in my mind and acquired connotations that I had not previously attached to it.
Bible stories are often simple and low-key. Things are not explained in detail. Rather, there is space for the reader to fill in the gaps in their own mind while reading the concise text. The power of the stories partly lies in this: there are multiple surfaces where different readers can see their own reflections. This time, the story of Moses in my mind seemed to reflect the situation of parents who are done with their role as concrete guides of their child and need to leave him or her floating in the boundless Nile, which is a symbol of the wide world.
Moses’ birth was probably an event tinged with fear. His mother was aware of the Pharaoh’s order to have all newborn baby boys killed, and she may have been afraid even of getting pregnant. And when she found she was pregnant, she had the new fear of the baby being a boy. Her joy at the birth of a new baby must have been mingled with immense pain. At the very moment the newborn cried out for the first time, he was predestined to die.
It is difficult even to imagine the atmosphere in the family of baby Moses. The parents had to go about their daily chores and take care of the baby, but they simultaneously had to keep the baby’s existence secret. It must have been harrowing to wake up in the morning with the premonition that this might be the day when the baby would be wrenched from his mother’s arms and thrown into the river to drown.
Over the weeks, Moses’ mother considered different alternatives. Would it be better just to give up, stop hiding the baby and accept the inevitable loss that she would have to experience anyway? The pressure and confusion in her mind mounted, until she had to do something. She had come to a dead end, and as her last desperate action, she made a reed basket waterproof, placed her baby into the basket and left him afloat in the Nile, which was one kilometer wide. She left one of her daughters to watch what would happen. This gesture is symbolic: while she physically left her baby, her heart remained watching for him in the river.
If ever anybody prayed fervently, Moses’ mother did. She knew her son could only be saved by a miracle of God. She was guided by faith and saw hope even in a situation where there seemed to be no hope left. Overcome by despair she still continued to hope, and a miracle happened: she was soon holding her baby again.
Few parents need to face such a cruel and concrete prospect of losing their child. But parenthood always includes worry and sometimes downright agony for the future of our children. All children have their own lives and they make their own choices, which may be different from those their parents have envisioned for them.
Parenting is challenging: the parents may be disappointed with a child, but that disappointment should not be channeled into aggression, which would be perceived as rejection by the child. We need to let our children make their own mistakes. Children need the love and protection of their parents looming at the background for a long time, regardless of their lifestyle choices. Parents must tolerate the pain they feel when the reed basket floats away on the waves and water begins to seep into the basket.
There is time to rear a child and time to stop rearing. We cannot live the life for our children. When there is nothing left for us to do, we can, and we must, do what Moses’ mother did: let go of our children and set them free into the river Nile, so that they can live their own life outside their childhood home. But we must keep them in our hearts. Even when the currents take a child a long way from home, faith instructs us who remained on the shore to watch out for them, to hope, to pray and to love. We may yet see a miracle.
Reilut kymmenen vuotta sitten julkisiin rakennuksiin alkoi ilmestyä kansioita, joissa luki ”pelastussuunnitelma”. Monien kirkkojen sakasteissa tämä antoi aiheen huumorille ja erilaisille toteamuksille: ”Viimeinkin pelastussuunnitelma on tiiviissä paketissa niin pappien kuin seurakuntalaisten saatavilla”. Joku puolestaan pohti: ”Eikö Raamattu enää riitäkään pelastussuunnitelmaksi, kun apua pitää kysyä viranomaisilta?” Rakennusten turvallisuuteen liittyvä ohjeistus muistutti siitä, että kirkko on Jumalan pelastussuunnitelman eli sielujen pelastamisen asialla.
Välähdyksiä rovasti Pentti Kopperoisen elämän varrelta sekä ajankuvaa suomalaisten elämästä 1930-luvulta nykypäiviin.
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