Text: Liisa Lilvanen-Pelkonen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
This past summer I spent a lot of time at Toijala cemetery, because my mother is no longer able to take care of our relatives’ graves. For many years already I have planted flowers on the graves in Toijala and also on my grandparents’ graves in Lempäälä and my sister’s grave in Urjala. My mother, however, has been responsible for watering the flowers on the nearby graves. Finnish summers are often so rainy that watering has not been a major task.
The hot summer we had this year, however, caused a lot more traffic at the cemetery. I went to water the flowers every second evening, and I often stayed and sat on a bench for a moment to admire the beauty of the graveyard. The warm weather also reminded me of the two springs and summers that I worked at a cemetery. One of those summers was very warm, and I spent most of my working hours carrying watering cans. My arms went so numb that I had to hang them down by the side of the bed when trying to fall asleep in the evening. There were no watering hoses available, and we therefore had to carry around watering cans to save the poor flowers that nodded their heads in the heat. Yet I loved my job. I especially liked to work on new graves. My workmates called me “grave artist”, saying that I made the graves look so tidy and artistically nice. Maybe they only wanted to be friendly to a new worker.
I had never realized before that many people come to the cemetery daily. Now that I myself went there often, I tended to see the same people often visiting the nearby graves. Some of them seemed busy and tended to their flowers quickly, while some others had time to walk around or stop and sit down. I think that every visitor has a right to spend private time with their loved ones who have passed away. I therefore avoid contact with unknown people, because I cannot know how they feel about their visit at the grave. It would be embarrassing to smile brightly to a person who feels very sad. But when I meet people I know, we can freely talk the way we would talk anywhere else.
I have lived in the same locality for more than 50 years, and I therefore know many of the people buried in the local graveyard. There are familiar individuals and whole families, a few of my old teachers, but fortunately no students of mine yet. I have sometimes even been able to tell a visitor where to find the grave they were looking for.
I enjoy the tranquility of cemeteries. I feel good visiting the graves of my father and step-father, because they were believers. I know they are resting and waiting for the morning of resurrection and their destination in the heavenly home. Some other believers have also been buried in our local cemetery, but there are not many of them. I do not feel particularly sad about that when walking around the cemetery, and I do not think I would even need to feel sad.
Maybe my visits to the cemetery this past summer have also been preparing me for the future passing of my elderly mother. Tending to a grave will probably have a completely different meaning when I visit the resting place of the person closest and dearest to me. Still, I am sure that even when that happens, the momentary sadness will turn into joy when I remember that the weary traveler has been able to put down her traveling staff.
Kansainvälisesti vertailtuna vakaassa ja turvallisessa isänmaassamme on ilmennyt ajattelua, jonka mukaan esivaltaa vastaan tulee taistella. Tällaisen ajattelun perustana on käsitys siitä, että suomalainen yhteiskunta ei toimi jäsentensä parhaaksi. Muualla läntisessä maailmassa on nähty jopa konkreettisia hyökkäyksiä yhteiskuntarauhaa vastaan.
Siionin Joulu on lehti joulun kristillistä sanomaa kaipaavalle. Lehti on värikäs, aikaansa heijastava. Hartauksien lisäksi siinä on haastatteluja eri puolilta maailmaa.
Lohdullisia ja riemullisia lauluja taivaasta Jämsän Kristillinen Kansanopiston kuoron laulamana.