An hour and a half from London’s Stansted Airport, the kindest couple picked us up in Gothenburg, fed us, and ferried us to the most delightful Smultronstället in Aneby, Sweden.
The family home was a former farmhouse built in the 1700s. Its painted timbered walls were a safe nest to rest from the year and prepare for camp. It was strange not to be able to shrug off the overwhelming sense of safety within its walls. I could not figure out whether it was the magnanimous Christian hospitality of the Swedish Boy’s parents (for whom “make yourself at home” really meant that) or the smell of a well-used but clean house or something else. We met his extended family and neighbours – all friendly and curious…
There were delicious barbecues outside their summer house by the Black Lake and refreshing summery fish dinners in the gazebo, all washed down with good quantities of elderflower drinks from the bush in their garden.
with its fields of rapeseed and potatoes, and picnicking by the old castle overlooking the Vättern lake while discussing the biblical imagery of the sea, and eating from cherry trees by the road;
boating up the Black River with its thick forest of reeds and its frogs under lilypads, lazily counting different species of dragonflies, chatting about the use of testimonies and the state of the Swedish church, and staring wonderingly at birds of prey;
berry-picking in the forest – where you stuffed ripe sweet fruits in your parched mouth as much as you added them to the basket. The wild smultron (wild strawberries), raspberries (in short supply due to the late spring/summer), and blueberries that we had the self-control not to consume immediately made for a delightful dessert, with cream and a sprinkle of sugar.
Had some of the most well-rested nights in a long while. And it was so very very good to be able to have proper conversations about the application of Colossians and also about quantum physics and cosmological theories instead of having to bear the sneering that usually greets any attempt to broach these topics.
So very thankful to God for the worldwide church family, and a little glimpse of what our fellowship in the new creation might look like.
*Gränna, in Jönköping, is also home to polkagris – a peppermint candy. Polkagrisar shops line the streets, enticing tourists and locals alike with the smell of warm sugar spun into different flavoured crunchy sticks.
**much liquorice love, much of which was imported to London to replenish the depleted Copenhagen stock