My HOME Is Where My HEART Is

WALLED GARDEN

Sometimes it does feel like this picture*
that we are looking from the outside in…

‘My Home is where My Heart is.’ Tis for me, for after living in many countries and cultures, it really has been the only way to survive to an extent. Lapland is the country and place where I always say that I am from, more so than from Finland, actually.

It is easy-peasy to move from A to B geographically ‘in body’ with our suitcases of clothes and whatnot, but it takes a long long time for our mind, attitude, emotions, thinking and heart to follow!! It applies to within one’s own land as well moving from one part of the land to another, of course.

Tis my own experience moving from country to country and culture to culture, and also moving from Lapland where I was born and where I grew up to other parts of Finland; so I have learned to give myself time, space and place to adjust in peace to the new or as is now the case, back to the ‘old’ for as you know, I am back in Finland presently – for how long do not know, yet.

It all takes its time. Period.

Happiest, as in the most fulfilled personally, is the immigrant/emigrant who has learned to take the best of both – or all as the case may be – countries and cultures one left and combine them with the new, so that this becomes such an added richness into one’s life in every way possible which is priceless, methinks.

It is perfectly normal and ‘within the norm’ to feel like the way you do at present over there as an alien in an alien land.

To be ‘processed’ into the new and to personally process the new strange land: its language, its culture, its landscape, its people, its media, its sense of humour, et cetera; Yes, it is a process and rather painful at times, I think.

BUT SO MUCH WORTH IT!

The crux of the matter will be again when and if you change back to where you came from or to another culture and country – the same process will be repeated… Not a bad thing at all, at all, for it makes us take stock of our own values, life & living and ‘the very being of our person’ that is you and that is me.

Now when I am back here in Finland – well – it has not been easy to settle back in here. The hardest thing to me is the weather. It being more on the freezer style than anything else! But I am determined to make the best of this situation, this clime, and all the things that it is now to a strength. It is not Finland per se that makes it difficult to settle in; it is life. Life, in every country and culture has things that take their time to get into the gear, to get used to and to be familiar.

That is why I am patient, I am giving myself time to adjust, to ingest all that is here and now. It is the only way, I have learned. It can take years to become somewhat ‘in’ in the things in the new culture and life. It is not usually an instant happening; though, one can feel that instance nearly immediately arriving in some place. That is the way I felt in Israel, I had absolutely no culture shock, no feeling of being an alien, not a thing. I just jumped in and ‘BINGO’ – I was at home! 

It is one’s own attitude to everything – even to oneself that matters.

Tis for now. Rii xx

PS.
You know what the greatest shock was in Ireland for me and the next one to it?!

That it was SOOO C-O-L-D in Ireland INSIDE the houses and that the coffee was soooo BAD! Real bad as in AWFUL then when I arrived there in 1980! Now it has improved.

* The photo is by me taken in Ireland summer 2006.

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Alien Corn in an Alien Land – Shavuot

Nafoura

Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,

She stood in tears amid the alien corn;

Source: Line 65 of the Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats (1795-1821)

The story of Ruth is a story of an alien in an alien land as she originated from the neighbouring and somewhat distantly related country of Moab in the ancient times. I came to think of her and her story as tis the time of the year when this story is read and celebrated in Israel. Shavuot – the weeks – is what this word means; as does the word ‘pentecost’ meaning: fifty in Greek, which both count the fifty days – that is seven weeks – from the Passover to this festival as instructed.

I went to Israel at the time when the war had been going on in Irak for just a short while. Not the best time to go to the neighbourhood, I hear you think. True, but twas the time I had to get away to be totally in a place of absolute rest and recuperating from an extremely hectic time of work and whatnot. A time to get me head together again – not having to take anybody else into account in any way affecting me. I had given so much that I could not give no more, to put it bluntly.

The spa treatments, the complete rest and the time to be still did me wonders. Even with the F16’s and their relatives constantly flying really low – I was on the 12th floor in the hotel and they flew at that height over the Dead Sea between Jordan and Israel – did not disturb my recovery that much. I found the aisle seat to observe rather interesting, actually.

The temperature was just perfect – not too hot, not too cool – to take moonlight walks by the shore and while walking looking over the Dead Sea to the other side where the ancient Moab was and where the present day Jordan is situated, I came to think of Ruth, the Moabite – in that link there is a poem I was inspired to write about her. It must have been extremely tough for her to leave all that was home to her and go to a place unknown, unfamiliar and unsure. One has to be/have been an alien in alien land to get to the depths of her soul. I have been that several times in several countries. And like, Ruth, I did get integrated into the greater society as a member and not as an observer. Here some thoughts on the being an alien in the alien land as an immigrant that I wrote earlier on.

Ruth’s secret was the giving:

  • She gave of herself to her mother-in-law unconditionally.
  • She gave her birthright away in her own culture and country.
  • She gave of every morsel of food she got to Naomi, too.

I am sure that there is more but these are the ones that spring to my mind while writing this here and now. Ruth also received blessings and fame beyond measure. Even today we know who she was/is.

The story of Ruth is the most beautiful love story that I have ever read. I hope that the people in Israel do think of her in the midst of the feasting on the mountains of cheesecakes and the fresh fruit as this also the Festival of the First Fruit – HaBikkurim.

Tis for now again. Riihele xx.

The mountains of Moab are the most gorgeous shades of pinks – one of these days I shall paint them.

PS.
The photograph is by me of one of my very favourite restaurants and it’s in the Old City of Jerusalem. The wall on the right is the actual wall from the 1500’s that surrounds the entire old city there.

Thoughts of An Immigrant/Emigrant

BOAT2
The boats sailing between Finland and Sweden became more than familiar to me over the years that I crossed over the Gulf of Bothnia – one way or the other way, either I was going from Finland to Sweden or vice versa. In the early years of these sailings I would be so very sad leaving either port, that at times, I was thinking to myself that I should really settle in the in-between place called Mariehamn in the Aland Islands!

The happiest immigrant/emigrant is the one who has learned to take the very best of both worlds -or whatever number there is – and to combine them into a source of inner strength in the new. There is just no point to keep on hankering after something that is not going to happen in the new country, new place. One would not have left – many a time – at all if it had been possible to remain where one was living. Neither can I force my way in the new place to be exactly the way I want, as I am a newcomer who has to earn, one who has to get the right to express one’s opinion on the things and issues in the setting. I have no right to demand to be heard. I have to bide my time. I have to be ‘in’ to do that.

This is the thing, that I have learned and understood to be the case in my life going from place to place and from country to country, to do. When I did accept that things are never going to be the way I like or want to the T, the quality of my life improved vastly. I just chilled and enjoyed the here and now. I made the most of that circumstance, not wishing this way or that way.

In the first year in Sweden I was rather green in the life of an immigrant/emigrant – I bundle them together because one is really both – I would say things like: ‘Oh, our summers in Finland are just so great.’ As if the summers in Sweden would be the rock bottom! I did not mean it mean, it only sounded so, looking back. My new Swedish friends were very gracious and took it admirably.

When I went to Sweden my whole idea of the going was that I would be with the natives aka the Swedes even though the place was crawling with fellow Finns by the hundreds of thousands.I wanted to learn the language properly; and had I spent all my time with other Finns, that desire to learn the language and the culture would have been lost. Only the very last year – that turned out to be that – did I spend more time with my fellow countrymen.

Now when I am back here in Finland – well – it has not been easy to settle back in here. The hardest thing to me is the weather. It being more on the freezer style than anything else! But I am determined to make the best of this situation, this clime, and all the things that it is now to a strength. It is not Finland per se that makes it difficult to settle in; it is life. Life, in every country and culture has things that take their time to get into the gear, to get used to and to be familiar.

That is why I am patient, I am giving myself time to adjust, to ingest all that is here and now. It is the only way, I have learned. It can take years to become somewhat ‘in’ in the things in the new culture and life. It is not usually an instant happening; though, one can feel that instance nearly immediately arriving in some place. That is the way I felt in Israel, I had absolutely no culture shock, no feeling of being an alien, not a thing. I just jumped in and ‘BINGO’ – I was at home!

It is one’s own attitude to everything – even to oneself that matters. It says in a Bible translation:

 

‘A HAPPY HEART IS A CONTINUAL FEAST. ‘ So it is.


Tis for now – Riihele xx.

The photo is taken by me.

PS.
I have four home countries: Finland, Sweden, Ireland and Israel.
If Lapland is counted as a separate entity, then five!!