There are many last times in human life. They involve great joy and expectations, but often also pain and longing.
"Yippee! I will never need to come back to this school!" This may be the feeling of a young student on the day of leaving school or graduating with a professional diploma.
Parents with a nostalgic mind want to give their last advice to a child getting married.
We often say that a project is fully completed. A knitter fastens off the threads, a builder brushes the last strokes of paint. A child draws a card and writes his greetings on it. To complete his project, he makes a big round full stop with his crayon and looks proudly at his work. It is ready now.
Those who left their homes to escape the war knew they were looking at their homes and home villages for the last time.
I remember many last times in my own life. On my last day of work before retirement, I enjoyed a lunch of French fish that I loved. There was the background music of familiar school noise: clatter and loud exclamations. I was grateful for both my years as a teacher and my newly gained freedom.
Life changes after each last time. Something new comes in place of what is lost.
My mother knew that her illness was far advanced and she only had a short time left. She wanted to visit one more time her home area in Northern Karelia to say goodbye to the familiar village and her sisters and brothers. It was a thought-provoking trip. We could not know that, one day after our return, we would lose our father quite unexpectedly.
Soon after that we visited a friend’s family, where the mother was very lonesome for her eldest daughter, who had gone on a trip to America. Such long-distance travel was yet not common at that time. “What if something bad happens, and she is so far away from home!" she fretted. I remembered a saying my mother had used: ”Men come back from across the ocean, but not from under the ground.” That was a comforting saying that came from profound personal experience.
My mother’s strength continued to fail. One day in December my sister and I helped her have a shower. She said to me, “This is my last shower. Next time I will be washed differently.”
I washed her, spread some lotion on her skin, cut her nails. After that, sitting in a wheelchair, she wanted to go round our home, say goodbye to each room and reminisce. She looked at the living-room table and said, “You will soon have a lot of white flowers.”
Though I felt tears stinging in my eyes, her confidence brought light into that day.
Only a few days later my mother passed away. We did have a lot of white flowers in our living-room.
I have sometimes wondered how a person feels when they are told they only have a short time left. It can be months, weeks, or even days. I have also discussed this with some people. Many say they would like to leave ”with their boots on”, as the Finnish saying goes. Yet many of those who have lost a dear one say that it was good to have time to get ready for the loss. They were given a possibility to prepare for the loss and to discuss important matters. Too many of us may realize too late that they have missed the opportunity to speak about important things, or even to settle painful matters.
When I have been told about the death of a friend or acquaintance, I have remembered many shared experiences. I often think about our last meeting. In my mind I see that person, hear his or her voice. It has even happened that we have agreed about a next meeting that I have been looking forward to. Death is such an unexpected and unwelcome visitor that it has meddled with our plan.
I have known mothers who have been weak with illness, but have encouraged their children to go on with their lives. They have known it is better to live the last times together in a way that leaves positive memories rather than only memories of a sick and mournful mother.
Would it be good, if one still has the strength, to live the last days of one’s life by doing something that one especially likes? I would love to go to some dear places in nature, to watch the glint of the sun on water, a meadow of wild flowers, the forest, the starry sky over a snow-covered landscape. I would like to meet the people I love. And if possible, I would like to talk about the most important thing, the thing I have been most grateful for.
We can continue to live a full life until the end. I remember Martin Luther’s words: ”If I knew I were to die tomorrow, I would plant an apple tree today.”
Most of all, I would like to remind everybody about the important thing that will carry us safely into eternity.
Even though we may have many people around us, we need to open the last gate alone. For that we only need faith of the heart.
Text: Aili Pasanen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
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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Mihin syntien anteeksiantamus perustuu Raamatun mukaan? Kirjoittaja käy läpi Uuden testamentin anteeksiantamusta käsittelevät kohdat, joiden kautta avautuu monipuolinen ja selkeä kuva aiheesta.