– Do you have a longing for something?
She looks directly at me, but then her gaze shifts to the window and the large aspen trees and dark green spruces that grow outside.
I need a moment to think about what I am longing for, but my friend continues to speak.
She says she misses the house that her husband built for their family. And the yard with a swing in the shade of a rowan tree and blossoming perennials by the wall. She also misses the well that gave them water at first and then the water pipe that brought the water into the house. They worked hard – it was a good life. There was a bird feeder outside the window and many birds. Sometimes they even saw a squirrel there.
– Oh, why did I have to move out of that house? I wish I were still there.
As we continue our conversation, I ask her how she would manage to live there now. The hard-working husband that built the house has already passed away. She sighs. She admits that actually she could not live there any longer. She is also lonesome for her husband.
– But do you ever long for anything? Where would you like to be? she asks.
I tell her that my longing is most poignant in the spring, when white wood anemones are in bloom. I remember the springs of my childhood, when fields were white with wood anemones. This is why I have planted wood anemones on my yard whenever I have found a few of them in the cold and infertile Kainuu region. They have grown well on my yard, however.
But I point out that if I went to my childhood home now, it would not be the same any more. When I long for my old home, I actually also long for the time I spent there as a child. That time is now part of my memories.
I know I am sometimes also lonesome for dear people who have passed away. And other people whose paths have crossed mine in life. I may suddenly feel a burning desire to see them again. But those moments are only short flashbacks. They are not burden for me.
– I long to be in the heavenly home, my friend sighs.
Reminiscing about her life again, she says:
– It is good I did not die young, as I did not know anything about this faith. I have received a great gift.
Even later, while visiting together, our conversations touched on the topic of longing and lonesomeness. Gradually her strength diminished. As her memory faded, she forgot about her dear home and the life of hard work. The only thing left was her longing for heaven.
Then came the day when I sat by her bed for the last time. Now she need not long any more.
We may long for a place, a time in history, dear people. Or we may only have an undefined sense of longing. I think that is important, too. Would life be somehow emptier, devoid of feeling, if we did not long for anything?
How deep must be the longing of those who have had to leave their home country or region and move into unknown conditions?
I have often thought that it would be easy in this busy, bustling everyday life to forget about my true destination. I know, of course, that I can use the days I have been given to do my temporal duties. Still, I often also pause to think if I feel a longing for heaven. That makes me want to meet those who are dear to me and to experience situations that remind me of heaven.
I remember how, as young people, we used to sing a lot after services. ”My heart is ever longing to reach that peaceful home" was especially dear to me. I do not know why. As far as I remember, that song was not connected to any special experience except the great joy of singing. My life at the time was happy and full of hopes and dreams for the future, but that did not diminish my desire to sing about the longing for heaven. Later, at times of trials, the words of that song have really come to life.
At services I have noticed that even those who are young today often sing songs about heaven and the longing for heaven. In our hectic life we still have an internal desire for something solid and stable. Singing brings peace to a restless mind. The longing for heaven makes us look forward.
Text: Aili Pasanen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original blog post here.
Kansainvälistä ja valtakunnallista muistiviikkoa vietetään ensi viikolla. Ihmisten eläessä yhä pidempään muistisairauksia sairastavien lukumäärä kasvaa joka puolella maailmaa. Muistisairaus liittyy myös yhä useamman suomalaisen elämään joko läheisen tai oman sairastumisen muodossa.