Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pondering Peace

Today in Norway, the sun returned. It has rained every day since the horrific events of Friday. I am staying at my in-law's place in rural western Norway. They have a beautiful view overlooking Seim's Fjord, with mountains out their front door and "the world's northernmost wild growing Beech forest" right next door. The view over the fjord today, as you can see in the picture, was peaceful. It almost makes you forget for a bit, the terrible terror that has shaken Norway to it's core.

It is in fact, so peaceful here, when I sit out on the patio, I can hear the sheep chewing their food up on the mountainside. No kidding. Vollom (where I am now - where Vidar, my husband grew up), is a peaceful place. It's hard to even grasp the terrible reality that one of the girls who lives just down the road was on Ut√łya. She jumped into the water and swam for her life and was rescued by a boat 40 minutes later. Only after witnessing some of her closest friends shot and killed. No, such a nightmare is hard to imagine in such a place as this. Where the days are filled with boat trips out on the fjord to catch supper, picking berries from the garden, hikes in the mountains, conversations with family neighbors, sipping coffee with friends, gazing at the magnificent beauty filling this fairytale land...

That fairytale image was shattered on Friday. At least temporarly.....

Yesterday I took a trip in to Bergen and visited the ever-growing memorial to those affected by the bombing and shooting. It was powerful to see all the candles and flowers and messages. The memorial was surrounded by both Norwegians and tourists - all in silence - reflecting on all that has taken place. It was encouraging to see that life is still going on; as locals were back at work, tourists were chattering at the fish market and enjoying the quaintness of Bryggen (the harbor), and the stubborn clouds were still hanging over Bergen like usual.

The night before, 50,000 people gathered in Bergen to join in the torch-light procession. 250,000 in Oslo. It is estimated that over 2 million Norwegians gathered in their respective cities and towns to process together - peacefully. Amazing, for a country of 4.5 million.

What has made a huge impact on me, is that in the aftermath of the bombing and the massacre, there has been no violent outrage, no diplays of hate, no talks of revenge, no voiced hatred or bitterness. Only peace. Only an outpouring of support. Only people gathering together in sorrow while determined to rise from this stronger than ever.

Yet, I would not expect anything different. These are a peaceful people and they are a determined, wise, and strong people. They are a proud people who will not let one of their own destroy what they have fought for and built here, in this beautiful little country nestled among the sea and the fjords and the mountains. They will not back down from their openness and their ability to see all people as deserving and equal. They will not let hatred get the best of them. With love and strength, standing strong, the Norwegian people are moving forward and holding fast to what they believe. I am humbled and moved to tears. What an example they are to the rest of the world. Oh, that we could all learn from these peaceful people.....

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