Marraskuu, the Finnish name of November, means ‘month of death’. It is certainly a fitting name. November is dead, dark and cold. The last swans have left, and we no longer hear their constant trumpeting song. The lake has gone through a cycle of freezing, thawing, re-freezing and re-thawing, and snow has done the same. In between the snowy periods we have had rain and the evenings and nights have been pitch black. Even mornings were quite dark for a while, but as soon as we got snow, mornings took on the lovely shades of blue twilight.
The polar night creeps on us slowly, as it always does at this time of the year. Sometimes the very thought of November darkness and cold makes me depressed. But there are also times when I enjoy the candlelight indoors and the winter lights hung up on shrubs and trees outside. We gather to drink tea in the kitchen and listen to the howling of wind outside. Or we can do something outdoors and imagine being in the wind and snow of some remote arctic region – and yet find ourselves safely on our own yard!
When I moved here as a young wife, I was afraid of the dark. My husband did not understand my fears. “If you cannot see in the dark, so whatever may be there cannot see you, either.” I said I was afraid of ghosts and bogies. “Well, be sure not to tell our kids about them, because there are no ghosts or bogies!” I wonder if I did? Or do we even need to tell anybody about our fears to make them afraid? I guess some fears derive from the primitive instinct of humans, and even animals, and their purpose is to protect them from predators and other dangers.
I have recently been thinking about fears related to faith, or rather about the things that protect us from evil and experiences that are not good for us. Faith is like a protective wall, a shield against the fiery arrows of the enemy of souls.
But what happens if fears grow into gigantic proportions in the human mind? If they control our life and cause anxiety. They may even affect our physical and psychic health. They may prevent us from believing, freely, especially if we do not dare to share them with anybody, not even where we should find the atmosphere most accepting, encouraging and forgiving. It takes courage to share our fears, especially if we anticipate scathing criticism or disparaging comments. And it need not be something about faith. We may be ashamed of characteristics, features or ideas that would be a positive resource if used and appreciated properly.
I have noticed that when I have mentioned some strange thoughts or fears in a discussion, either on purpose or unintentionally, it has often turned out that some others say they have also been pondering about such matters. One may receive comfort and support, and even understanding, from a surprising direction. Thoughts are like birds, we cannot prevent them from flying over our heads, but we should prevent them from making their nest there.
When SRK recently proposed to arrange mission services in Po¬si¬o, we volunteered to host them, so that we would not need to ask around for willing hosts. As the date of the services approached, I began to wonder about masks, social distancing, catering and the number of guests. I was worried there might be so many guests that we could not observe the recommended precautions. I was almost ready to cancel the services, but in the end they went really well. We had two guests in addition to our family. The sermons were so touching that I could have sworn the speakers had been spying on my thoughts. I truly felt that they were exactly the kind of good words that the listeners needed. Our Heavenly Father knows what we need.
We had good services and were left with a feeling that we want to host services again in the future. We also enjoyed discussing with the speakers afterwards. They had such a lot of interesting stories about their experiences. One of the speakers reminded us that an angel may come in the form of a big hulk of a man. It is said in the Hebrews: ”Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:2).
I am grateful for the visits and discussions with speakers in my childhood home and those that I share with my family in our own home. There are moments when an ordinary Friday evening seems festive, and our home services are like an oasis in the desert. Surprise visitors after a youth evening are like angels. And so are friends who sit down at the piano and suggest that we sing a Christmas carol or two, because it is already November and it is okay to start singing Christmas carols. I am grateful for guests who listen to my worries and concerns and leave us in God’s Peace. It was so good that you came!
Text: Salla Pätsi
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
Oikeudessa puidaan pian sitä, mitä saa Suomessa uskonnonvapauden nimissä julkisesti sanoa. Samalla punnitaan kahden perusoikeuden, uskonnonvapauden ja sananvapauden suhdetta. Molemmat ovat Suomen perustuslain mukaan luovuttamattomia ja suojattuja oikeuksia.
Mikaelan perheessä ei paljon puhuta asioista. Tehdään töitä, käydään koulua. Mutta jossain pinnan alla on salaisuus, joka saa äidin hyräilemään surumielisesti ja Mikaelan silmäilemään tarkemmin muutamia nuoria koulun käytävillä ja ruokalassa.
Annika Koivukankaan runoissa heittäydytään nuoren elämän aallokkoon, sen iloihin ja kipuihin, koettelemuksiin ja arjen suloiseen turvaan – kun on usko, johon nojata ja rinnalla saattajia. Syviä tuntoja keventää raikas huumori: ”Kunpa voisin asettua hetkeksi koiran turkkiin. / Tuntea sen lämmön / karkumatkojen tuoksun / ja myllätyn kukkapenkin ilon. Paijaavia sormia riittäisi.”
Kahdeksanvuotias Nalle Karhunen on kuusivuotiaan Nupun eli Omenaposken viisas, kiltti ja hellä isoveli. Joskus Nalle käyttäytyy kuin talviuniltaan herätetty hurja ja äkkipikainen karhu. Silloin Nupun on parasta lähteä ulos tai laittaa oman huoneen ovi visusti kiinni.
Kirjoittajat eri puolilta maailmaa kertovat siitä, kuinka Jumala on johdattanut heidät valtakuntaansa. Kertomuksia yhdistää kokemus kotiinpaluusta, Raamatun mukaisen uskon löytymisestä ja uskovaisten välisestä rakkaudesta.