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…am singing from Psalm 42 these days❤ …

If I fall, let me fall on my knees

If I call, will you draw near to me

If I wade into waters too deep

Will your grasp reach…

 

If the dark of night lingers long

Will you be with me, be my song

Will the gift of your Presence renew

As I call out to You

 

If I seek, Oh, Lord help me find

More of you, may my heart be resigned

to rest in Your goodness and truth

of Your mercies new, always new

 

And when life gets out of hand

May I cling to the Great I Am

Who resides in the here and now

Who presides come what may, some how

 

Let the bones thou has broken rejoice

May the praise that resounds be a choice

choosing hope that will never let me go

Am holding on to hope

 

And when deep waters call to deep

You alone will my soul safely keep

Granting rest where none else can go

Granting freedom of being fully known

 

If I thirst may it lead me to You

as a deer pants and water renews

If a void grows within me so deep

May the hunger be satisfied by Thee (only Thee)

If I pour out my soul unto you

May what’s poured out of me come from You

May my weakness be my strength

As I  just give thanks…in every thing give thanks..

 

If I hunger, let it be for You

For Your Presence, Your guidance, Your truth

If I thirst, let my longing lead

me to wells of your eternal spring

where thirst’s quench is satisfied

Where the longings change

Where love abides

 

As a deer pants for waters that flow

Let me press on to seek, to know

You who leads the weary and the lame

You who feed the hungry and ashamed

You who give grace and set captives free

Speak to me, Lord draw me

 

If I fall, let me fall on my knees

When I’ve called, how you’ve drawn near to me

Oh the peace that will never let me go

Oh the reach that grasps and says “Be still and know….”

I know

 

When I rise, let it be in your strength

Knowing You, You alone are to thank

For the grace that reaches far and wide

For the place that leads me to abide in You.

 

Psalm 42, Lamentations 3, James 4, etc…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Silent Sunday

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going homeSo, for 9 days,  “home” had been a beautiful room with flowers on the windowsill,  a view of my favorite little pink bike, and the most comfortable bed I think I’ve ever slept in.  It has been a respite, a gift, a treasure that I will look back and think on with gratitude and laughter and an awe that no words can fill.   And I’m thankful for that because it is day ten of ten. I held back tears as I looked at the flowers that Austin had given to me in the train station on day one.  It has long been said that “all good things must come to an end.”  I don’t know for sure about that, but I do know that these flowers seemed to state what I knew…my time there was coming to a close.

I packed and repacked my bag because on the airline that I was traveling on, there were some pretty strict regulations and I didn’t want it to go over the weight limit. (Correction, my suitcase, not me.)  Austin volunteered to carry the bag that whole morning because he knew that I’d have to carry it throughout the trip and even though it was under 15 pounds, it didn’t have wheels and so it got heavy pretty quickly. I accepted that gift and enjoyed just walking seeing the sights one last time.   We needed to be at the airport by 10:30, and decided to do breakfast at a nice little place on the square that I had come to feel was my little home base of sorts. This was the area where we rode bikes through the first day, caught the ferry to the archipelagos, and walked around on one of the first days there.

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We ate at a cute little place that had been overflowing with partying sports fans the night before, but was now a sweet little breakfast cafe.  Of course, we chose to sit outside.home4

We both ordered Swedish waffles with berries and cream and cafe latte.  Was so incredibly good.  home5

We ate a leisurely breakfast, for, after all, we had PLENTY of time before I had to catch my flight and we were ahead of schedule.  We left and walked to the train station.

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I found myself doing the kind of “Good night, Moon” talk in my head. “Good bye sail boats.”  “Good-bye statue of the beautiful man”, “Good bye bikes”, “Good bye geraniums in every window and life saver at every 2 inches of water”….”Good bye tall, beautiful people”, “Good bye art and beauty at every turn…”  “Good bye bikes”…the list goes on.  We even saw a poster in the train station for the Nick Brandt exhibit, “Inherit the Dust” that we had seen at the Fotagrafiska museum.  “Good bye Nick Brandt”.

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But one thing that was not on the list was , “good bye Aus.”  That was just too tough to think about. Wasn’t going to go there. Not yet. No way.  (p.s.  note in photo, Austin has his back pack and my bag at this point).

So, we got on the train and as we passed through the turn-stall, I saw a woman rushing to get to the train on time.  I felt  so sorry for her and thought, “Boy, I’m sure glad that I’m not her.  Feels so good to not have to rush….” Ha.  That would end up coming back to haunt me for sure!  When we got on the train we even had 2 seats next to each other which was rare.  We ended up at the airport a half hour ahead of schedule. We were there at 10:00 and had hoped to be there by 10:30.

But as the train came to a halt at Arlanda Airport, I looked down at my itinerary. We were just getting up and I said, “Aus, why does this say Vestra? Is it Arlanda/Vestra?”  And Austin had a look on his face that I’ve rarely seen, but it was pretty terrifying. Turns out, there was good reason for terror.  We were at the wrong airport.   Yep.  That poor woman that I had felt so sorry for and seen rushing was probably in a way better situation than yours truly. Deep breaths.

So, the next few minutes would’ve been a great comedy sketch big time. Aus feverishly searched through his iPad to see what we could do to get to the other airport on time, and then the only person that was left by the tracks was the one who had checked our tickets, so I asked him what would be best.  The consensus was that a taxi was the only option.  So, Austin and I quickly left the train and ran up two flights of the escalator (that looked like a mountain…) and then as we found our way to the taxis, I looked and I realized something was missing.  My bag.  Oops.  I was like, “Austin, where’s my bag?” (I saw that look again…)  So…we ran down the same two flights of the escalator (mountain), and then found that the train had left.  So, you’ve got it…back up the steps with no bag.  Ah well.

Austin seemed to be doing fine with the running part.  Just fine. But me?  I used to pride myself in being an alright runner.  Ha.  Funny.  Really funny. That was a long, long  time ago. What we don’t use, we lose.  (Gotta find that back….) But my kids don’t have a stubborn streak just from their Dad.  I definitely get credit there too, so I pushed through but was relieved when we finally got a taxi.   The driver was really kind and said, not to worry, we’d get there in enough time even though it would take an hour and 20 minutes to get there.  Yikes.  But we did get there.  In enough time even.   But it was the most expensive cab ride ever.  Ah well again. Deep breath again.  New airline tickets would’ve been way more expensive for sure. Gotta keep things in perspective here.  With cab rides.  With lost bags.  With saying good bye to ones we love.

So, we got there, and then, I had to say that dreaded “Good bye” to Aus. Relief had washed over both of us that we had gotten there on time, and so it made the see ya later so much easier. I told him to go and make sure he got his bus ticket back to Stockholm and he did, and then he waited as I went through Customs.  Nope, he didn’t have to wait until I got through the gate.  And I never had to when I dropped him off at the airport.  But it just doesn’t seem quite okay to leave when your child is still in your sights for a bit when you won’t be seeing them for a long time. Maybe when the roles are reversed, it feels the same.  Yes, I shed a few tears, but it was all gratitude.  100%.

Now back to that role reversal thing. All week, I had taken off the boss, manager, teller-of-what-to-do hat, and LOVED having a break from that.  And Austin had put the hat on.  With plans, with decisions, with arrangements, Austin had taken care of the big and little details. And so, come Thursday morning, I didn’t even think twice about which airport we’d need to be at.  I just defaulted to Austin.  It wasn’t even a thought.  And that was so my fault to default to someone else.  So thankful that we worked it out for sure, but it was a lesson for me to always be vigilant. Always.  Even when the hats are off, I’ve gotta be aware.

The views as I left Sweden made me smile.  Islands.  Water.  Clouds.  Beautiful Sweden, these ten days were amazing.

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On the flight, we flew over lots of COLD mountains.

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They were beautiful. I so enjoyed the first part of the flight.  I was sitting with two women who were so intelligent and entertaining.  They were both black women, one from California, and one from Nigeria, who were very vocal about their thoughts on social justices and injustices and I so enjoyed getting to know them and laugh and share with these two ‘strangers’ who were so easy to connect with. ( I only make the distinction that they were women of color because we had more in common that not, and in today’s social climate, I wanted to say that. I felt so connected through laughter, conversation, and sharing of experience…ethnicity was not a barrier…) But half way through the trip, I realized that we were running way behind schedule. (Oh, and the time zone thing tripped me up again big-time.  I didn’t know whether we were adding or taking away hours, so it took me a bit to realize how late we were going to be. )

So, I wish  that I could say that the airport fiasco was the most stressful part of the trip.  It wasn’t. AT ALL.  The problem with that was that the window of time I had between my arrival time and the check in time for the gate from Boston to Charlotte was originally less than 2 hours. Had to go through Customs and all that.  Well, with the flight delay, I had less than an hour to get through Customs and board my plane which would begin boarding within half an hour.

So….I asked the flight attendant if I could move up seats. I was in row 22 and I knew that waiting for all to get off would waste precious minutes.  She checked to see if there was a seat up close and 4 B was open.  So down the aisle I go.  I then excused myself as I sat between two young twenty-something women.  I said, “Excuse me.  I moved up because I’m concerned about missing my connecting flight.”  The girl to my right said, “Me too, mine takes off at 7:30.”  I smiled and said…”Mine is at 7:15″.

She was  very tall, lean, and beautiful. I felt short even sitting next to her.  Her physique looked very Swedish, but she had dark features. Turns out that her mother is American and her father is Swedish.  She was living in London and coming home for her brother’s wedding.  Anyway, when the plane stopped, we began our little RUNNNN! through the airport.

I could’ve felt as though I had nothing to offer.  She with her long legs, sneakers, and ease with running was helping me (much shorter me with flip flops and 20 some years on her) to navigate through the airport, etc.  But I DID have something to offer. I really did.  You see my flip flops don’t flop when I run, they CLOP.  And they CLOP LOUDLY.   So as we’re running past passengers, she with her quiet graceful, long-legged strides, and me?  Me with my loud CLOP-CLOP-CLOP of my leather bound flip flops.  Yes, I did indeed  had something to offer because people were clearing the aisle as they heard me coming, probably wondering what the in the world that sound was. I think it helped us make pretty good time if I do say so myself.

We got through Customs part one and two and then ran to her gate, and then mine was further.   I thanked her and told her I didn’t know if she believed in God but I do and I just feel like she was such an answer, provision, for my prayer to get to the gate in time.  She smiled (gracefully of course) and we both RAN our separate ways.

It was a little after 7 and my flight was to take off at 7:15.  I tried the first KIOSK I could find to check in, and ….bad news, it denied issuing a boarding pass.  Too Late?  I ran faster.  And then…then I try to find Gate B 8 and the hall stops before 8 and starts up in the teens, so it was missing some gates which included Gate B8.  What in the world? This was so not good. Not good at all.  Anyway, turns out B8 was across two roads/drop offs, and as I ran through, well, I saw one car, but then…didn’t see that one, and had a near miss with a car.  Really close call.  Stupid move.  Catching a flight isn’t worth getting hit by a car. I was probably not looking so graceful then either, mind you.

There were other details, but I’m sure you travelers have lots of stories like these and I can end by saying that as I rushed up to Gate B8, the flight attendants hadn’t even the begun boarding process.  Turns out there was a pretty big delay on this one as well. The flight attendant seemed so calm and kind and smiled as my sweaty  and oh-so-relieved self checked in.

As I waited, I stood by the window.  This is what I saw.

home25The sun was beginning to go down, and the sky was just beautiful. I felt so relieved as I didn’t want to have tax my family with the cost of another airline ticket.  Do you know what thought occurred to me as I saw everyone around me with their carry ons and luggage?  That if my bag hadn’t been left on the train, I don’t know if I would’ve made it to the gate on time.  My long-legged  beautiful friend might just have had to abandon me if my short flip-flopped self had been lagging a 15 p0und bag. Even with my help of my loud flip flops sounding the alarm that we were coming through, she might just have had to ditch me. And it would’ve taken a lot longer for me to find where I needed to go.

I don’t pretend to know what God does or doesn’t do, but my faith allows me to believe that so often what I may see as a nuisance may just very well His provision, His care, His hand, for something that’s ahead of me.  It amazes me, encourages me, and allows me to breathe when life gets crazy. (And life sure as a way of getting crazy…)  The unseen Hand of God is often so visible…  I boarded the plane and got a window seat. And here’s what I saw then…(There it is again. That visible, invisible Hand…)

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“Good bye, Boston.”

And as we rose above the city, I saw the river and sail boats and small islands. And I thought about how beautiful they were there in Massachusetts,

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and how beautiful they were there in Sweden.

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I thought about how cool it is that no matter where we are, there are so many things that are so the same in landscape, in buildings, in people.

Had it been an easy travel day, my focus would have been how incredibly hard it was to leave Austin.  It so would’ve been.  But boy oh boy how the circumstances changed my urgent desire to get home.  Although it was still so hard to say goodbye, the difficulty sure helped to keep things in perspective.  This wasn’t home…this was just a passing through.  And in order to get home, I couldn’t depend on me alone.  I needed others to help me get there. It was such a blessing after such a crazy day of travel to walk down the steps at the airport and see my husband and Tanner waiting for me.  Home.  And maybe that’s part of the beauty of traveling…an appreciation for what’s “out there”, but a renewed, brand new appreciation for what has been there all along.

Blessings ~
Heather

P.S.  (always…)  I can’t help but think of the analogy here…as a believer in Christ, am thinking I’m not Home yet.  And maybe the trials, the unrest, the struggles in this life in the here and now, can give a realization that, you know, we’re not really Home yet. As huge of a gift that Life is, could it be that we were created for more?  The Bible says we are and we were. home11 I pray that we’d always be aware of the Unseen Hand reminding us that we were created for so much more, and that we will be thankful for all of the amazing reminders that He has in our paths, right here, right now. home8Thank you, Austin.  No words for how blessed I am.  And that’s saying a lot (for your quite wordy mom).  Love you (and all of you kids) way more than words can say.  Keep doing  your thing knowing that God goes before you and behind and is right there in the middle of it all.❤

 

Oh, and a little addendum.  I got a call from Austin a few weeks after I returned home.  He said, “Mom, there’s a  UNESCO conference in NY I want to go to, and I’m thinking about coming HOME to see everyone for about a week…what do you think?”  So guess who came home with my crazy looking bag over his shoulder and very few clothes because he brought mine?   Yep…this kid.(He had called the train station and picked up my bag the day after I left. Huge relief!)  We had the most amazing week with family.  Life is short. So thankful for time spent with people we love!

 

 

Ten Days (Part One)

Ten Days (Part Two)

Ten Days (Part Three)

Ten Days (Part Four)

 

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Silent Sunday

vasa.JPGIsn’t it funny how time can feel so relative?  Sometimes we  feel like time is just flying by, and sometimes, it just tick, tick, ticks at a s-l-o-w-w-w-w pace.  Well, these days in Sweden were just tick tick ticking away so very fast.  It was now day 8 of ten.  We had arrived back from Copenhagen on Monday night, and Tuesday, we got to visit  the Vasa, a museum that houses a nordic version of the Titanic…a boat which sunk …on its maiden voyage.

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Why did  it sink, you ask?  Well, it turns out that it was built for the King of Sweden and took years to build.  The detail and craftmanship were amazing.  Ornate carvings, gilded structures on a massive ship were so impressive.  Until it set sail that is.  Turns out that the ship wasn’t balanced and the top heavy structure sank about 1400 yards off shore.  Oops. Another oops was that those building it actually knew it wasn’t quite balanced, but were all afraid to tell the king. Not good.  But in the 1950’s, the boat was salvaged, its contents recovered and chronicled, and a museum was actually built around this amazing ship.  The Swedes have now turned one of their greatest known failures into the greatest tourist attraction in Stockholm.  It’s definitely worth the visit.

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We met Austin’s friend and parents at the Vasa.  She is a historian who goes to Penn State and has been in Sweden with Aus in Fulbright Scholarship program.  She absolutely loves the Vasa and is a wealth of information regarding this failure-turned-fortune ship.  She is funny, highly intelligent, and brought to life the history of this amazing ship. I could share lots of facts from the VASA, but here are two take-aways:  Balance is key, and hiding a problem instead of sharing it to solve it often leads to way bigger problems and embarrassment and heartache. (When that small breeze took down the VASA, 30 lives were lost.)

After exploring the Vasa Museum, we went to lunch at a sweet place with Austin’s friend’s family right on the water.  We had the gazebo to ourselves when we arrived…tues29tues15tues17

After a nice lunch with amazing pizza and lots of conversation and laughter in this riverboat gazebo of a restaurant, we said good bye to our companions and got another cup of coffee to enjoy a bit more time.  We sat outside the gazebo and took photos.

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There was a mother swan and her babies (cygnets) gliding along under the bridge.  I took the next photo and then asked Austin, “I wonder which one you were?”  We laughed out loud on that one.

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Then, we began our walk back.  But as we liked to do, we took a diversion to go for a walk around the city.

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We ate pasta lunch on the other side of this bridge on my first full day in Sweden. We rode bikes over this bridge that day as well.  I already had a lot of sweet little connections with this beautiful city.  Austin’s friend is a great tour guide, but so is Austin.  They just have different styles for sure. tues28

We ended up finding an area where Aus hadn’t yet been. It was a walkway on the river’s edge.  There were beautiful flowers, quiet spots to sit, and lots of people, young and old, coming and going. tues5tues4tues3

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Off shore, there were some young children learning to sail…learning to balance their little boats before they were given big boats.  That made a lot of sense for sure.

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And this Dad?  Well, we saw him throughout our walk, stopping at different points with his young son and letting him explore.  He taught him to throw rocks in the water and they cheered at every splash.  Did you know that not only moms get maternity leave in Sweden?  Dads get it as well (paternity leave of course).   They get 6 months and take turns.  The Swedish government has recognized that children need both parents. That that time is important. Love that.

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I found in choosing these photos for the blog, I had the distant theme from the Vasa running through my mind…”Balance…”tues38tues34

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We walked through the area, and then went to meet Austin’s new business associates at a beautiful cafe.

tues10 Loved meeting this diverse group.  The 40-something accomplished business woman brought her 4 year old daughter and her family dog, and the 20 something man came late (he’s not from Sweden…) with a new hair cut and a grin that made you feel like you had known him a long time.  We had a mid-afternoon coffee and cherries, nice conversation, and then went back to eat dinner with the professors with whom Austin lives.

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That was a hoot and I wish I had taken photos of these precious hosts.  They are from the 60’s era…self-proclaimed hippies from the East Coast (U.S.) turned professors who have lived in Sweden for 30 years. They are gracious, hilarious, and endearing.  I loved my time with them.  I ate reindeer for the first time and the meal was delicious.  The conversation was intriguing and enlightening with everyone having their time to share their thoughts, experiences, and take on things.  Shared.  Balanced.  Good.

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The next day, day 9, was sunny, bright, and beautiful.  It was perfect.  And it was the perfect day to have a perfect day because we were taking a two hour boat ride to the Archipelagos of Stockholm. “Archipelagos” is a term for a ‘sea or stretch of water containing many islands.’ I had no idea what a treat I was in for.   We got to the boat early and were a little disappointed to see that the top deck was already full. (Ok, I’ll be honest, we were really disappointed.)  So, we sat onboard at an inside table and watched the water through the little windows.  But after a few minutes, we both agreed that we’d rather stand for 2 hours and feel the wind and wide open spaces than to sit and watch through the window.  So that’s what we did. No regrets there…

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On the deck, we breathed in the fresh air, felt the mist from the waves on the ferry and felt warmth of the sunlight which balanced the cool breeze.  It was quite chilly at first, but the view and the vibe was worth it.  Yes, better to forego comfort and enjoy the full experience.  Good decision. Better to stand with the view and freedom than sit in quiet comfort and miss out.  We watched as buildings got smaller and fewer between.  Huge ships and steam liners were gradually replaced with smaller sailboats and small powerboats. Tall buildings were soon replaced with quaint little homes and docks.

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And then pretty soon, there weren’t many houses or buildings or boats.  There were islands and birds and waves.  Every once in a while, we’d see a lighthouse or dock or tiny little house.

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Was a refreshing two hours.  Even though we were standing and constantly having  to gain our footing  because of the winds and waves, it was so worth standing to be able to have a view from above.  Perspective was much better than from the 6 x 12 inch windows in the inside lower deck. Perspective is everything.  We arrived at Sandhamn, an island that Austin had visited before. He walked with purpose to take us to a place before all the other tourists found it…a huge rock area that overlooks part of the town and the Baltic Sea. To get there, we walked though little back yard paths in between quaint cottages.  Yes, quaint seemed to be the word that kept coming to mind. (As well as the word “trespassing”! Aus assured me that these were public areas…Swedes have a different mindset of what is shared property than we do in the States.)

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We arrived at the first destination.  And the view was so unique.  The quaint little town was busy below.  Ships shared the coves with sailboats, and it was so relaxing.  We sat on that rock for awhile and enjoyed the views. sand7

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We did beat the crowd of tourists, but after about 15 minutes, they were climbing the hill and settling in to enjoy the incredible view.  We moved on to meander more through the paths to different parts of the island. Simple beauty / beautiful simplicity was everywhere.  arch84arch93arch94arch95

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Our next stop was at this little shop.  We bought our lunch here and then ate in the outside little courtyard garden area.  I had a panini.  Austin did the right thing and had the fish that this area was known for.  Both were awesome.  sand26

We continued walking on, and I tell you, the place that we found on the other end of the island was I think, my favorite spot.  Not just on Sandhamn Island.  But in all of the amazing places we had been, I just totally loved this one.  Not sure whether it was the incredible view, the wide open spaces, the wind and sun or the combination of it all.  I think I really loved it so much because after a week of exploring so many places and being around so many new things, ….and before a day of travel and saying goodbyes, here was a place of solitude and beauty to just kind of sit for a bit.arch87

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Austin seemed to like it, too.  We stayed there for hours. The steep hill of stones led down to the water.  To the left were sailboats, and the main area of the island, to the right was wide open spaces.  Right in the middle was water and rocks and sun.  My toes dipped into the Baltic Sea for the first time. (Actually, that’s not true.  I did make sure to dip them in when we were in Copenhagen. Previous to this, these toes had only seen the Atlantic and Pacific…)sand10

I sat as Austin searched through rocks.  This one has rocks and sand from all over. And I mean ALL over. I remember him coming home from spending his semester abroad and wondering why the heck his suit case was so heavy.  Turns out, there were jars of pebbles from Greece, sand from Dubai, and rocks from who knows where else that were loading it down.  I don’t doubt that if he ever goes to the Black Sand beaches of Hawaii that he will come back with ample amounts of sand in his shoes as his great grandfather did 20 years before Austin was ever born.  Why sand in his shoes?  Well, taking the black sand was not allowed, but Austin’s great grandfather that he never knew had a granddaughter in Rockville, Maryland who had a rock collection and he did his best to help out when he could. Can you guess who that granddaughter was?!  I think my ‘Papa Les’ and Austin would’ve gotten along just fine!) P.S. I had a few beautiful pink pebbles from this place in my purse before Aus began the search.  Once a rock collector, always a rock collector…sand12

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We took lots of photos, laughed, talked, and had a lot of silence.  Day 9 of ten. It hit me that I was so thankful to have this time, and this amazing little spot on the Baltic Sea was the perfect little place to just sit and be thankful for a bit before saying goodbye to Sweden, and see ya later to the son that might be staying on in Sweden for quite a while longer.  Lots of mixed emotions for sure.  The water in the landscape wasn’t the only salt water around for sure.

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arch86arch85  As Austin went and took photos , I sat and just cried.  I admit it. I felt so much gratitude for being able to be in this place at this time with this kid who was out doing his thing and wanting others to have an opportunity to see some of the world that he’s seen. I felt grateful for the ones who had encouraged me to come and were holding down the fort at home. I felt gratitude for the amazing world that God created…for how it works, it’s beautiful and balanced and good.  It’s a gift to catch glimpses of different views of this amazing world.  The people, the land, the cultures.  All different, but when balanced, when shared, it’s a beautiful beautiful portrait for sure. Yes, I sat there in it all and was just  deeply grateful.

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We left this spot and made our way to catch the ferry that would take us again on a 2 hour tour back to Stockholm.   We walked back through lush forests. sand34The groundcover was so different from what we have in NC.  I loved seeing this little tree sprout up amongst the tall Pines.  sand36We all start somewhere.  This little tree was just starting out as the older ones had been there for ages.  All cohabitants of a beautiful forest, all growing at their own pace in their own time. We continued walking towards town to wait for the ferry.  First though, we got some gelato and sat on the dock waiting for the boat.

Lots of people were there before us, but we still made sure to go to the top deck.  We even had a seat this time.  sand37

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The sun started to go down and shimmered off the water in a new way. This was always my favorite time of day at home…when there’s still time left in the day, but most of day is done…..when there’s still light and a warm glow about things, but things are winding down and slowing down.  sand42sand43sand44

The activity on the water increased as we neared Stockholm. Gone were the shorelines without buildings, for these were lined with building after building, all creating a beautiful horizon.  When I saw the view below, my ‘home base’ throughout the week, I knew exactly where we were.  There was quiet on the boat as we neared the dock to land in Stockholm. It had been a great day.  We got off the boat, and Austin pointed out a restaurant where we’d probably have breakfast in the morning on that same square that had been home base.  We walked by the restaurant, knowing that in a few short hours, we’d be back. sand50

We walked past other familiar places, the square with the statues, birds, and purple flowers. The 7 eleven housed in an historic beautiful building. sand52sand56

Our last stop was for a cup of coffee, and after a little while were politely told by the barista that the shop was closing.sand53We walked back to the train station and arrived safely back before 10.  Tomorrow was day ten, and we had to be at the airport by 10:30, so I packed most of my things, and tried to get some sleep. It had been a good, good day.

And these nine days?  They had been an amazing gift. So many things were new, and some of the things I observed from the Swedes were so simple, but beautiful.  I think they learned long ago, from the lesson of the Vasa, that life needs to be balanced, or else, like that amazing top-heavy structure did so many years ago, you sink. I would leave this beautiful country feeling refreshed, inspired, and thankful.

 

Here are a few  of my little ‘lessons from Sweden’:

  1. Be on time.  The train WILL leave if you’re not.
  2.  Safety is important.  Fluorescent vests and hats for children are a must at school, and life saver floatation devices are EVERY where that there are a few inches of water.  Rules keep us safe and are to be followed. Best not step one teeny tiny toe into the Bike lane.  Could be catastrophic.
  3.  Breaks are necessary.  Fika is a pastry coffee break that people take at work EVERY day!  (Whereas we in the US often feel guilty for a 2.2 minute run to the snack machine.  I bet the Swedes have some good laughter and collaboration/team building during that break every day.  Having something to look forward to is a good, good thing.)
  4. Exercise is just part of life.  Bikes, bikes, and more bikes with people from every walk of life were all over Sweden. (Barbara, a 70 year old professor, still rides her bike to the university…not a leisurely ride, but a trek up a steep hill…)  Stairs are everywhere as well…mountains and mountains of stairs.
  5. Little things matter.  Blankets on restaurant patio chairs on cold days were everywhere.  Little necessities were quietly provided.  Loved that.
  6. Simple things are beautiful…  Bottles with wildflowers were everywhere. Simple decor that was so tastefully yet effortless was everywhere.  Loved that.
  7. Being resourceful is important.  Windmills, solar panels, and water conservation was seen all over Sweden.  Even the toilets have 2 choices to flush – half bowl or whole. Simple solutions to growing problems.
  8. Wait your turn.  I had heard that Swedes form lines quickly and saw it first hand at the NY airport and wondered why everyone was lining up before the seating groups were called.  Taking turns is important and one must wait for theirs.
  9. Humility is a good thing.  People were absolutely beautiful, but there wasn’t a divisive air about. My observation was that so many of the people I encountered were kind, direct, and yet had a sweet humility about them.
  10. Last but not least…Balance.  Balance is key…with boats…and with people.

 

Thanks again so much for reading and seeing and entering into my little voyage to Sweden.  So fun to share it with you all.  I’ve got one more post of that last day.  Wrote it already.  (Shortest one yet, believe it or not!) I’ll share in a few days so as not to overload !

Blessings~

Heather

 

“He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you.  To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8

Ten Days (Part One)

Ten Days (Part Two)

Ten Days (Part Three)

 

c89

 

 

Silent Sunday

“You will keep him in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.”  Isaiah 26:3

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