I spent many summers of my childhood basking in Swedish summer sunshine (and sometimes rain). I know there is much more to Sweden than I have seen and experienced and there are relatives living in my mother’s home country that I miss and hope to see again someday, but this trip, Jason and I chose to delve into Norway. We wanted to visit Lise and OJ (Odd-Jørgen) and their family. Lise and OJ are two long-time friends who we met as newlyweds. Lise had come to do doctorate work at UC Berkeley in her area of study, high temperature super conductors and OJ was beginning his career as a self-employed problem solver for public transportation systems around the globe. None of us had children yet. We met at the young married’s class at First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley. That class was a unique blend of strong personalities filled with highly gifted women and men, a number of whom had attended Cal in some capacity. Of course, Jason and I were the victims of much ribbing for being Stanford grads, though our work among Cal students earned us a little respect
The group was also in constant transition, the exciting kind that fills a young couple entering into a future of possibilities. Some individuals were welcoming their first children. Some were adopting. Some were finishing grad school and getting jobs that often took them away from Berkeley. Others, like Lise and OJ eventually had to head back home.
These remarkable years bred many friendships, some of which have lasted into our 50s.
The Scovills and the Bergmanns have remained important friends among many other couples, friends with whom we have camped, traveled, ministered together, supported in parenting challenges. Lise and OJ lived far away, raising their two girls in beautiful Trondheim. We shared mostly through Christmas letters and emails, with one visit by our friends to the US. And now, Lise and OJ have welcomed us to Trondheim like royalty, lavishing on us the best of Scandinavian hospitality. (Nordic folk get a semi-bad rap for being aloof.) I have never experienced this.
As far as pilgrimage goes, I think of our stay here as a launching pad. We’re being filled with fuel (great food and drink), settling our hearts in wild beauty, resting and receiving a few great health tips from our friends (Kinesiology Tape…I might need to write about the tape later). But most of all, we are renewing friendship and finding how our affection for one another has grown, despite the distance. I’ve always felt that friendship is an underrated gift in our culture, a culture fixated on falling in love and finding a mate. Here, in Trondheim, we are soaking up intimacy through conversation and the sharing of life for a few days. Our friends are a balm and blessing. Our friendship feels miraculous, like something I don’t necessarily deserve and dare I say it, it feels holy, like a gift knit together by God for the nurture of my soul.