Text: Jouni Lesonen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
Whenever I think about a journey in wilderness, I immediately remember the 40 years that the people of Israel spent traveling from Egypt to what is now Israel. It was an arduous and dangerous journey across a dry and hot desert. The story of that journey includes descriptions of arguments, complaints, rebellion and despair. But there were also good moments. Skillful artists have even represented that journey as a romantic expedition.
The life of a Christian is often compared to the Israelites’ journey in the wilderness. Does the journey that took place nearly 4000 years ago have something in common with our time? What things are similar in their journey and ours, and how similar are those journeys? The journey of the people of Israel can be viewed in terms of spiritual imagery. Yet it is part of historical reality. The descriptions of hunger, thirst and despair reflect the brutal reality of that journey.
What is it like to travel for 40 years? It might be easier to imagine that if we think back over the last 40 years of our lives. Now that my oldest children have reached that age, it is good to reminisce about the events of the past decades.
I remember well the birth of our oldest child on a cold January morning. Our second child was born on a hot day in August and the youngest on my wife’s birthday more than 20 years ago. I remember something about the birth of each of my eleven children, at least what the weather was like.
I then go back even deeper into my memories. We have all seen pictures and read descriptions of rural life in the post-war period. There are many romantic pictures of small grey or red-painted houses surrounded by well-kept fields yielding abundant crops. There are also pictures of clean white snow, pillars of smoke rising from chimneys straight to the clear blue sky, cheerful red-cheeked children playing in the yard, and a small path from the house to the barn. There is a dim light in the window of a dark house.
These romantic images are products of selective memory. It is said that a good picture says more than a thousand words. But a picture can also lie more than a thousand words. The reality behind a beautiful picture can be quite harsh.
I was born in northern Savo into the kind of romantic rural idyll described above. The small patches of field required hard work and only yielded meager crops, if even that. There were days in August when the northerly wind calmed down and the temperature dropped below zero, freezing the unripe grain. The light of the sunny morning that followed sparkled on the frosty ears of rye and barley. Those crops were not even fit for animal fodder, but were plowed down into the ground. On those mornings my parents probably saw no silver lining in the clouds, only their pitch-black core.
The small grey houses were cold on winter mornings. All work in the house and the barn was done in the light of oil lamps. The barn was small, cool and humid. Milking the cows in the wavering light of an oil lamp, sitting on a small, wonky stool brings no romantic memories to my mind. It was hard work. The poorly insulated houses had to be heated often. On a calm and cold day, the smoke really went up as a straight pillar.
I have been thinking about that journey of ours in wilderness. Although we were poor and lacked many things, there was always enough to eat. Our diet was not as well-balanced as nowadays, but we never went hungry. The poverty was kept secret from the children. Only decades later did I understand the extent of the worries my parents must have had.
The standard of living has been steadily rising during my lifetime. My wife and I got married in 1978. The change that took place between my childhood and my marriage had been remarkable in both rural and urban areas.
Most young people who are getting married now will start their married life in a better economic situation than we did. They will not experience a journey in the wilderness of temporal poverty and hard labor any more. Many of the people who used to live a hard life have died or moved to town by now. We receive good care. We live in a welfare state.
Do you remember how the story of the Israelites’ journey in the wilderness ends? It ends beautifully, doesn’t it? ”The Lord our God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place. In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.” (Deut. 1:31–33.)
”Nuori tarvitsee vanhemmat, jotka ovat huolissaan, pettyvät nuoren toilailuista, ilahtuvat onnistumisista, suuttuvat laiminlyönneistä ja sanovat tarvittaessa ei. Vanhempien tehtävänä on uskaltaa, jaksaa ja kestää silloinkin, kun nuori ei itse uskalla, jaksa tai kestä”, sanotaan Mannerheimin Lastensuojeluliiton sivuilla.
Levollista ja iloista laulu- ja soitinmusiikkia turvallisesta paimenesta. Tutustu tarkemmin tästä.
Runokokoelmassa luonto peilaa ihmisen kokemuksia, mutta myös vaikuttaa kokemuksiin. Tutustu tarkemmin tästä.
Nuortenkirja kertoo koulukiusatun Joonan rippikoulukesästä. Vaikka kirjassa käsitellään vaikeitakin aiheita, siitä löytyy myös ystävyyttä, iloa ja luottamusta Jumalan johdatukseen. Tutustu lisää ja tilaa täältä.
Mitä lapset tekevät purjeveneessä? Mukaansatempaava kertomus lapsiperheen erilaisesta matkasta suviseuroihin. Tutustu tarkemmin tästä.
Lohdullisia ja riemullisia lauluja taivaasta Jämsän Kristillinen Kansanopiston kuoron laulamana. Tutustu ja tilaa levy verkkokaupasta!