The nights are short, here in Kramfors in the south of North-Sweden. Last night the sun set at 22.55 hr. and this morning the sun rose at 2.43 hr. But even during this short night it does not become fully dark. After about a week I tend to be fully used to this again. At home, in our bedroom in Zeewolde, our curtains darken the room completely, but in our Swedish bedroom the curtains are of a much thinner variety and let a fair amount of light into the room. During the first few nights this bothers me somewhat, but then it is OK.
One more week and we will have midsummer—always an important event in Scandinavia. In Sweden it is, in fact, the most important festive occasion of the year. Usually we travel to Sweden a bit later in the year and only once before we were lucky enough to enjoy the midsummer feast and take part in the putting up of the ‘may-tree’—in Swedish referred to as the majstång or midsommarstång. So, this will be on the program for the next weekend.
Today Kramfors celebrates the annual ‘stadsfest’. It is a mix of a fancy-fair and a market—not quite the kind of entertainment that I would go out of my way for to attend. And, in particular, on Saturdays I prefer other kinds of activities. But today I will make an exception. I do not think I can successfully explain to my two granddaughters, age 5 and 2, why grandpa and grandma, who only occasionally come to visit them, would refuse to go with them to this great local festivity. It is a topic that we might discuss with them in years to come.
It does raise, however, the question how Sabbath keepers give meaning to their Sabbath if they live in a region without any Sabbath keeping community. As far as I know, there are just a few isolated Adventists in this part of Sweden; those who are closest are a few elderly ladies at some 80 kilometers from here. Normally we skip our Sabbath worship when we are in Sweden. This year it will mean at least four church-free Sabbath days. It is something I definitely miss. At home it is only at a rare occasion—at most once or twice a year—that I have the Sabbath day off and may take the chance to sleep in. But, apart from this, church attendance is a regular habit. And, to be honest, I enjoy doing the preaching myself.
I do remember how it is to be an Adventist in an environment where there are no other church members. When my parents moved in 1947 from Amsterdam to a village north of that city, there were no Adventist churches north of the line Haarlem-Amsterdam, except an ultra-small church in Den Helder. In our village the population consisted of Dutch-Reformed, Christian-Reformed and Roman Catholic people. In addition there was one lady who had become a Jehovah Witness, and then there was the Bruinsma family, who were regarded by most as a kind a Christian-Reformed, with the peculiarity of keeping the Saturday rather than Sunday as their day of rest. It was not until the mid 1950’s that the Adventist Church in nearby Alkmaar was started. Until that time we had no opportunity for regular church attendance. Once a month the pastor from Amsterdam came to hold a service in our home.
Today will be a real ‘day of rest’ after a week of strenuous physical labor. The painting and wallpapering, in particular, took a little getting used to again, since it was many years ago when I last did that kind of work. But, if there were a real need, I would perhaps be able to earn my living with it. However, I trust that this period of physical work in my son’s home will be of limited duration!