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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Sweet Summer in Stockholm

We have just returned to Paris from Stockholm. It is still strange for me to leave Stockholm to go home somewhere else!
 But it was an amazing delight to return during the long, light days of summer in that beautiful city we called home for almost 17 years. After an oppressive heat wave in Paris, the cooler temps that drove me crazy when we lived there were a welcome respite from urban, humid heat. The quality of the air, the cleanliness of the water, the deep green of nature, and the calm of the city were all things that reminded me of all that is good about living Stockholm.  One of the great gifts of returning to a place you've lived is that you are reminded of the things that kept you there with joy and delight and all of the stuff that bothered you or was hard fades deeply into the background leaving you with a treasure trove of warm memories that is pure gift.
Our trip was divided into distinct sections! The front end was spent with dear friends who have welcomed us into their home on countless occasions especially holidays and with whom we feel a very warm and familiar connection that includes their 3 adult children. 
Being in their home is like coming home to a warm cocoon. Hospitality oozes from every corner and we are so thankful for the ways in which they embrace our comings and goings. Their home that sits close to a lake was a perfect place to start our journey! One of the evenings we had a gathering over delicious food that included a significant conversation regarding my Louisville Institute book project. The depth of conversation and insight was so inspiring and I feel I am now well on my way with my project. SO EXCITING. 
We also shared a traditional Indian meal with our brother from another mother. They have moved to a new place that overlooks the sea so our waterside walk enabled us to take in the glorious sunset that put on quite the show that night.
The middle section of our trip was spent celebrating midsommar in the manner we had for years upon years with more extended family. What joy to re-live these weekends. It was cold, but not rainy. Doug swam on midsommar eve late in the evening after all of the dancing, eating, drinking and singing was done. It was too cold for me so I waited until the next morning when the sun was a bit warmer. All of the friends who we had gathered with over the years were there and it was as if we'd never left. Babies and spouses have been added along the way and it was a delight to see how these young ones are growing into responsible, beautiful adults. 
We returned to Immanuel International for the first time in 2.5 years. 

It wasn't weird. Didn't feel strange. We were warmly welcomed back with lots of love and appreciation, told we were missed but also understood that it was OK that we were no longer there. What a delight to enjoy the warmth and vibrancy of this lovely congregation. 
The last stop was the archipelago and time by Baltic. We longed for our boat and our doggy but at least the family we were with had both! We enjoyed returning to the home that we called our summer home on the outskirts of Stockholm and took delight in the comfort of yet another place that wraps us in warmth and welcome. We motored out into the archipelago to spend one day and night with more dear friends who own the very best summer place in the world. 
We have always enjoyed the days spent out here and this time there was no exception. The boat ride was beautiful and we arrived and got safely ensconced in the house before a raging thunder and lightening storm hit hard. But it blew through and gave way to a gorgeous evening. Late into the night I could not get my eyes off the horizon. The morning gave way to a gorgeous, warm morning so I took the chance to dip into the Baltic. I do miss swimming in the clear, clean, and yes, freezing cold waters of the Baltic. Everyone else thought I was crazy but I loved it. The boat ride back into Saltis was glorious and Doug and I both soaked in that beauty that dazzled our senses summer after summer in Stockholm.
Finally on our last day we held one more gathering of Immanuel folks to discuss my project and this was equally as fascinating and enlightening. Held at the home of a couple who met at Immanuel and eventually invited us to tie the knot for them, their hospitality overwhelmed us. Victoria's cooking is at the top of the my list and I just love being in her presence. She and Ingvar are filled with grace and openness and it was a delight to experience that once again. That night, we stayed up very late with a young couple who again, are like family to us, talking, laughing, sharing heart ache and joy.
Final day coffees with friends at the brand new Mall of Scandinavia, an epically huge and gorgeous US type mall, proved to be a perfect way to bring this trip to a close.
It's impossible to express what it's fully like to return to a place you loved and at times, drove you crazy through the years! We are both content that Stockholm is no longer our place of resident but we are also both fully convinced that there is a big Stockholm shaped place in our heart that is filled up with the beauty of the city but more importantly the beauty of the people with whom a deep love is shared. 
It was joy pure joy to return and enjoy these moments and memories.