I love Sweden. I fell in love in 1969 and that sweet love has never been dislodged from my heart. I have 45 years of friendships that have become “family” connections. The language has a special place in my soul and on my tongue. The countryside is gorgeous and people here know how to sit and just take that in. Summer is short, but vacations are long and so are the days. Swedes do what they can to enjoy every minute, and this year, summer cooperated with warm, sunny weather. I spent more time sitting and looking at scenery with a cup of tea or a glass of wine in my hand than I have since I left here four years ago.
The things they fret about with their social system are things we would be so happy to have. When I talk about what I’m working on with feeding hungry children, they look at me as if we’re barbaric. Children are fed and housed. There’s public transportation. They’re the world’s standard for low use of antibiotics in animals, both in pets and meat production. They don’t use dyes in food. Even their toilet paper isn’t bleached. There’s so much going for it, and I love how I feel when I’m here. And goodness knows, there are those friends.
There’s a place for me on many a sofa, but in the end, it’s a visitor’s place.
I have often fantasized about living here. Early in my life, I applied for a job as a secretary. (Boy, are they lucky they didn’t choose me, I was a lousy secretary in English.) Yesterday, with my friends off moving their kid to his new house, I checked to see how alive that fantasy was. You know… not very. I’m not only missing my husband, I’m missing his music and the community gathered around it. I miss my friends and the life we lead. I know the rhythms in this household very well, but they’re not mine. And I miss my work. I miss the joy of it, the challenge of it, and the pieces that make a difference.
Retreat and respite are lovely. I’m not looking forward to leaving, to opening my arms and letting these good friends step back. It’s so hard not knowing when I’ll get back. I know how privileged I am to have them at all. But it doesn’t make it easy to go, however excited I will be to have you all back in my life. I’m not really even anticipating coming home. But it has popped up in my mind, finally, that I will be going home and it will be fabulous.
In the meantime, I will keep enjoying Swedish Peace, drinking in every last jot of its beauty. I will also remember that it’s not my Peace — or perhaps that it’s not all my Peace. The full hearts of global citizenship have to be balanced with the knowing and the missing of friends and traditions… and you know me… food. Here’s to celebrating the Peace of each place and finding that Peace which calls our hearts most deeply. Here’s me, giving thanks.