there are no words to really describe today. so, i’m gonna let my photos do most of the talking. i will tell you that we drove way out into the swedish countryside, to see a very dear friend – my ex-collegue/minister (from the church where i worked when i lived here). her husband passed away earlier this year, and she is adjusting to living life on her own – on their farm. we arrived at her amazing place at noon, where we immediately were welcomed with hugs and a little tour of the farm – i had never made it out there to see her when i lived here, so it was my first time. we met her cows, admired her late husband’s amazing wood workshop – where he passionately loved to work, walked through the grass, and ate a delicious vegetarian lunch outside made with veggies from the neighbors farms.
we sat and talked around the table outside in the shade for hours, listening to the amazing adventures of our friend’s mother back in the mid-1900s, as a swedish woman who refused to settle into the expected, traditional roles of wife and mother until she was good and ready. she was born in the states to parents who moved there looking for a better start, but moved back to sweden when she was 2. however, that american adventurous spirit seeped into her blood anyway.
after lots of stories, some watermelon and chocolate, and just as we were almost ready to take a little trip over to a little lake through the woods, another friend – who is close to my colleague and was such a great support for lina and me when we lived here – surprised us by showing up to join us for the rest of the afternoon.
we donned our swimsuits, prepared a fika, grabbed chairs and towels, and headed to the lake – 5 women – to enjoy this perfectly perfect swedish summer day. we sat, talked, swam, laughed, and just soaked up every little second, completely unaware of time. it was hot out, the sun was glorious, the water was crystal clear, and the trees were deep green. there were even lotus flowers blooming on lily pads. i felt as if i was enveloped in mother nature’s arms the whole time we were there – at peace, connected, grounded, and completely content. and i felt the power of the connection of women, both with these 4 women that i was with, and other women all throughout my life, including my mother and grandmothers. it was a day of celebrating feminine power, i think.
because this day was so special, and because i will cherish all of the stories, laughter, beauty, and the women that i shared this day with for the rest of my life, i decided to mark a sacred spot with some rocks from the bottom of the lake that paige dug up with her feet. i placed my little sacred monument on the rock that led down to the water – and i left it there – as a sign of the memories and moments that were shared on this perfect swedish summer day – with four totally different, yet completely amazing in the own ways, women who have each made a significant difference in my life.
love and peace.
i’m not sure if this was my fourth year or my fifth year of having the joy of being part of the annual camp at skeppsgården in sweden, but it doesn’t really matter. every year is exactly the same and completely different all at the same time. it’s very much like my reynolds family beach week tradition that my family in the states has had for about 29 years now.
the camp at skeppsgården was started many many years ago by the methodist church in sweden, and it is a place available for people to come and enjoy the simplicity and beauty of the swedish archipelago (islands by the sea) and the beauty of gathering with friends & family year after year. lina’s grandfathers, both methodist ministers like my grandfather, were a part of beginning this week-long tradition of renting the camp for their congregations and friends/family year ago, and the tradition and been passed on and carried down by lina’s parents and family.
skeppsgården, for lina, is that thing that has been a constant in her life for as long as she can remember (she was only 6 weeks old when she at tented her first week in 1984). and while i’ve only been a part of it for 4 or 5 years, i feel that history and connection, and i can understand it very well, because of my family’s own traditions. so, now i have my family’s beach week tradition of 29 years and lina’s family’s camp tradition – both constants in my life.
it’s so important to have these places and people and times in our lives, i believe. they give us (me) a sense of grounding. a reminder of who we are – and that, even when life changes and moves on, there is a ritual, a sacred space, a certain, special spot that touches our soul like nothing else.
so, skeppsgården has become a place like that for me. my first year there i had no idea what was going on, what people were saying, or anything about anything. it was all so, well, foreign. then, there came a few years that i “worked” the camp, seeing as i was one of the ministers that was to led some of the group discussions/worship services. and this year, after being away from sweden for an entire year, it felt as if i had come home. this year, skeppsgården was my home. i now have my own traditions, feelings, memories, and special places that are tucked away in my heart. i know the people, i can speak the language. what i am saying is, this place is now a part of me. i am not just a participant or observer, but i belong.
and that, my friends, is amazing. i give thanks, once again, for the beauty of having two places, two countries that i call home.
now, it’s time for me to finally share with you some photos of this magical, beautiful place – where life is simple and easy and all about community. enjoy!