It was the morning of 8th July. It was a day I had been eagerly looking forward to for the last couple of months. As the city of Stockholm was walking up to a new day, we along with a small group of families from church, boarded a ferry.
It was a beautiful sight to watch numerous little boats gently drifting across the sea with people relaxing and soaking in the bright morning sun.
The houses and summer cottages that lined the lush green shore line were an absolute treat to the eyes!
The further we sailed from the main land, grey skies invaded the sun and the Swedish archipelago welcomed us!
The infinite sea was interrupted by islands of all shapes and sizes!
After nearly two hours, we arrived in the little island of Ekholmen!
I couldn’t wait a minute longer to see what lay behind the sea reeds that fenced this land!
As we stepped out of our ferry, there stood Rachel, our host with the most welcoming smile!
As we began to walk, Rachel shared how this island treasured so many of her childhood memories.
This island is one kilometer in length and half a kilometer in width. There are no roads. Rather, no need for roads!
Just narrow trails and wooden planks across the tiniest streams.
No hustle and bustle. Just the sound of breeze and beetles.
Right in the middle of all the greenery, there stood Lars and their charming yellow summer home. Rachel and Lars welcomed all of us very cordially and shared a little history about their home and the island.
This house belonged to her grandfather and it was registered in the 1901s. It was one of the earliest homes on the island.
Rachel had baked delicious cinnamon buns and cakes and had set up the cutest fika corner for us.
We all then took turns and introduced ourselves. Soon after that Lars set up the grill and it was time for us to BBQ and lunch.
While we were BBQing…
…Rachel came over and we were conversing. In the course of our conversation when we mentioned that we were from Tamil Nadu, India, her eyes brightened with excitement and she told us that India holds a very special place in her heart because her step-grandmother was a missionary in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and Rajahmundry, Andra Pradesh.
As Rachel was speaking more about her grandmother, her work and her grandma’s husband’s final moments, I all of a sudden felt that we all were in a divinely orchestrated moment.
I will say why!
Of late, I have been noticing that Daddy God has been comforting me in the most unexpected moments and through completely unexpected people concerning my younger brother who passed on to glory last year.
Last month, on our visit to Junibacken, there was a narration about a character called Jonathan (my brother’s name was Jonathan!) who dies and goes to a land of happy adventures!
Rachel shared that after her step-grandma’s husband passed away in Chennai, India, she spent months grieving and missing him. It seems when she had seen him on his deathbed, he had his forefinger pointed upwards assuring he made it to his eternal home. During that time of grief, she wrote a poem that went like this –
“Dear Husband, Can you see me? Do you miss me? I don’t think you do! You are engulfed in so much glory and joy in the Father’s presence and you will know no sorrow or pain!”
It felt like Rachel shared this incident just for me. A sudden hope and comfort sprung in my heart. I was reminded it must be the same case with Jonathan. He must be engulfed in glory and joy!
As I type this, I am filled with mixed emotions of both pain and comfort, misery and a confident hope!
Rachel then took me on a tour around her house. Every tiny object in the house had a history that dates back to a century and a story behind it.
Every little detail showed how much they appreciated life and nature.
Here is an interesting fact I came to know about the Swedish summer houses – There is NO loo or bathroom inside the house!
I always imagined the summer houses to be very extravagant and luxurious with the latest in technology. That day I discovered it is not. The Swedes like to keep it simple in their summer home. Their summer homes are meant to take them back in time and back to nature!
They ate fresh fruits and vegetables grown in their very own garden. While the houses have basic water supply and electricity, the toilet is detached from the house, perched all by itself amidst the trees. It’s a dry compost toilet in the most serene setting.
When it comes to taking a shower, all you need to do is take a dip or a dive in the ocean! This being Sweden, the waters are always in varying degrees of cold, if not frozen!
We then took a stroll through Rachel’s backyard! This was it! Exactly how the artists had painted! Only that this was painted by the greatest Artist ever and this painting was alive and real!
And did I tell you, there are no shops on the island? The residents must bring all the provisions for their stay from the city when they come. If a sudden need arises, they need to go to another distant island by their boat!
There where tables and chairs placed at every place to relax and enjoy the quietness and beauty!
We spent the rest of our day exploring the island!
On one side it was the beauty of the island. On the other it was the stillness and the silence that touched me. ‘Silence’ is a very important factor for any Swede. At first I used to wonder why and how can the entire neighborhood be so silent. The dogs don’t bark, vehicles don’t honk and even the most crowded trains are silent. Eventually, I found myself seeking this silence.
There is something very calming and healing about silence. It relaxes a wondering stressed out mind. It has the ability to draw our focus to issues that matter the most. Outer silence often leads to inner calm. I realized it’s much easier to find and listen to Daddy God in the stillness. In being still, I can converse with Him and know Him. In the stillness, I find Him and in Him, my answers!
I ensured I walked back to Rachel’s house as slowly as I can. I wanted to savor every moment there.
There at the distance stood the house that was our home for a day – a home filled with a lot of love! A couple who welcomed us, strangers, with wide open arms!
It was time for goodbyes!
We walked back through the same trail!
As we waited for the ferry to arrive, I realized that this trip was a dream come true!
Three months ago on our cruise trip to Finland, as we sailed through the archipelago of Stockholm, I stood there on the deck wondering how amazing it would be to spend a day in one of those pretty houses on a tiny island. I didn’t even wish. Because some things, you just know, are too far-fetched to even wish for!)
Guess what? It happened!
I am just overwhelmed by the love of our Heavenly Father and this is how I feel –
“O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do]; You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken], Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before, And [You have] placed Your hand upon me.
Such [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high [above me], I cannot reach it.” Psalm 139:1-6 AMP
Our ferry arrived!
I walked back with my heart full of joy and my eyes wet with tears of joy!
Dear Rachel and Lars, I have known you only for a day but you have made a lasting impression on my heart. You are a beautiful couple inside and out! You overflow with the love of Christ! I and my family are immensely blessed to know you!
Lots of Love,