On the 7th of September 1986, the casket of Urho Kekkonen, who had been President of Finland for a quarter of a century, was brought into Helsinki Cathedral. After the funeral service, eight lieutenant-generals carried the casket into a hearse and walked by the side of the hearse as far as the Hietaniemi Cemetery. All church bells of Helsinki rang throughout the journey. All Finns seemed to share the grief for his passing. I listened to the ceremony broadcast on the radio, watching the large rowan tree that had turned red outside my window. Flags were flying at half-mast.
Soon after the radio broadcast, an elderly believing lady came to visit. I began to describe the funeral ceremony to her. I practically drowned her in my personal feelings of grief and nostalgia. I went on and on with my monologue! Suddenly, that sister said in a quiet voice that her son had recently died. If I had known about that, I would naturally have behaved differently. Even so, I felt myself the most tactless person in the world.
Whenever I think back to that visit, I remember the short story titled Grief by Anton Tchekhov. The writer has subtitled the story as Who could I tell about my grief. Jona, a poor coachman, is waiting for customers in the evening dusk. It is snowing, and both the horse and the man are crusted by a layer of snow. Finally, an arrogant officer comes for a ride. The passers-by grumble and criticize the coachman and his horse. When they fall silent for a while, Jona says, ”You know, Mister,… my son died this week…”
”Hrmh...Well, what was wrong with him?” The traveler closes his eyes and does not seem at all willing to listen. The conversation dies down before it has properly begun.
The next customers are three young men who are cursing and making a racket. As soon as they calm down a little, Jona briefly looks over his shoulder and mutters, “You know… my son… he died this week.”
”We all die some day," one of the men sighs having recovered from a fit of coughing.
Jona surrenders himself to his grief and turns his horse toward his home. Once at home, he sits down to rest in front of the big brick oven. The room is full of people sleeping on the benches, on the floor, and even on top of the oven. One young coachman wakes and gets up for a drink of water. Jona tries one more time, “You know, my chap, my son died… Have you heard? This week in the hospital… such a sad thing!” The young man draws the blanket over his head and falls asleep.
Jona gets dressed and goes into the stable. He begins to tell his horse about the death of his son. The horse keeps chomping on hay, listening to its master and breathing warmly into his hands. The story ends with these words: “And Jona is happy to tell the horse everything.”
Earlier in the story Tchekhov describes Jona’s thoughts like this: ”Almost a week has passed since his son’s death, but he has not been able to discuss it properly with anybody… He should be able to speak seriously and unhurriedly… he should be able to tell them about it… He would have such a lot to say…”
When I remember the visit of that elderly sister, I feel ashamed that, overcome by my own impressions and emotions, I was unable to pause and listen to her story.
Dear Savior, teach me to listen, so that other people could tell me about their concerns ”seriously and unhurriedly”, so slowly and quietly and for as long as they feel they want.
Text: Tuula Stång
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.
Juliaana Kellokoski ja Maarit Hosionaho, urut
Esilaulu: Lauluryhmä, johtaa Arto Turpela
Mihin syntien anteeksiantamus perustuu Raamatun mukaan? Kirjoittaja käy läpi Uuden testamentin anteeksiantamusta käsittelevät kohdat, joiden kautta avautuu monipuolinen ja selkeä kuva aiheesta.