Church

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Yesterday’s adventure, a little on the misbegotten side, left my dad very tired and in pain. Today it has rained on and off most of the day. At noon, suffering from some cabin fever, I decided to hop on the ferry and go to Vaxholm, the closest town (bigger than the villages on this island) to look for a little gift for the girl Maria and do some grocery shopping. Dad had decided he would read and keep his legs up most of the afternoon.

When I got off the ferry, I enjoyed wandering around in the heavy drizzle and made my way to the church. Again, the question, “where is home”? There’s a graveyard behind the church; I saw more than one family plot with tombstones that ranged from the 1600’s to the last few years. Talk about belonging. As much as my dad and I love Sweden, I am here for only 8 more days. I have no idea, now that my dad has decided this is his last trip, if I will ever be back. My dad, older brother and I talked about the fact that Dad will almost certainly die in Panama, Hans will probably die in Holland; in the same way, Nils will die in England and I in the US. None of the rest of my family members want a Christian burial, all of them want to be cremated and all of them want their ashes scattered where there is no way to mark their final resting place.

I understand their reasons and I accept the differences that define us as a very loose-knit family. I understood something else today as well. After wandering around the nave of the church, stopping in front of the altar, admiring the pulpit, I ended in a back corner far less remarkable than the rest of the space. There was a place to drop some money and light a candle, which I did. I wept again for my mom, said a prayer for her, missed her. I realized every church is the church to remember her in, every opportunity I have to light a small candle allows me to re-enact the liturgy of the light, that beautiful liturgy we celebrate on the Eve of Easter, when we reaffirm that death is not stronger than life, that darkness has not overcome the light. I felt very much at home in that beautiful church this afternoon–maybe the best I can claim for myself is, “home is where the church is.”

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3 thoughts on “Church

  1. Certainly a lovely church.
    This notion of home is one I think many of us struggle with him. This very modern idea of planning as much as one can such things, where one would like to die also reflects that. The idea of where the church is ,so is home,is one I think I relate to , in my secular way.Where one can flourish to one’s fullest given potential , in your case, your remarkable gift of ministry, that is indeed home. Panama must embrace your father in a very special way for him to not return to his spectacular homeland, I’m happy for him that he has found such a place. For the rest of us, pilgrim on.
    LGx

  2. Very touching, Rosita. Although my family is much more closely-knit than yours, I feel closely identified in your pain; where do we really belong? I don’t have the qualms about the place, it is definitely Cali. Both my Dad and Mom are buried here. But having no children, and therefore the “fear” that no one will visit the cold marble slab later on, cremation has become an option. And most certainly, home is where our church is. A big Amen to that.

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