For the last couple years, I have been struggling with getting in touch with my European heritage.
In a nutshell, the difficulty for me arises out of the fact that in my family of origin, my religion was tightly bound up with my Finnish Heritage. In fact, I had no way of separating my Finnish heritage from my former religion, the First Apostolic Lutheran Church.
The message I internalized was that religion was, when it comes to importance, the first, last, and everything in between. Nothing else really mattered.
When I went to church as a child, there were some sermons in Finnish, and the songbooks were half Finnish. When my parents spoke of Finland, the conversation was almost exclusively related to religion in Finland.
For the last couple years, I have had this big space in my life, a space that used to be filled with religion.
So as I always had an interest in my Finnish Heritage, I intended to try to get in touch with my "Finnishness", if there is such a word. But try as I might, it was to no avail, as just about every time I went to experience something "Finnish", I brought religion in along with it, and the pain was too great, so I would back off.
So I began to try to learn more about my former religion, and all Lastadian based religion. I figured that if religion is causing me that much pain, I had better walk through the pain, not run from it.
Right about that time in my life, my cousin Carol alerted me to a new book on Lastadian based faiths, "An Examination Of The Pearl", by Ed Suominen. What a lifeline Ed's book was for me. Thank you Ed, you are not only a gifted writer, but so very generous in the way you have offered your book to any who have a desire to read it.
I was finally able to see just how it was that my former religion came to be.
I am finally able to begin to separate religion from my Finnish heritage.
Due to childhood conditioning, when I would meet another person of Finnish descent, I would immediately attempt to identify that person as either a "believer", or one who has fallen away in some heresy. How tragic.
In fact, I now see as one of the largest tragedies of Lastadian based religion, is all of the divisions that have occurred over the generations, effectively dividing and separating people with amazingly similar backgrounds and life experiences.
So anyway, living out here in the Ocooch, I decided that one thing I can do to get in touch with my Finnish heritage, is to build an outdoor sauna. It has been a rewarding project, and I will post pictures and text on it at a later date, perhaps when I am at completion.
My family of origin history is wrapped up in religion, perhaps as much as my Finnish heritage is. As I have blogged about the more unpleasant aspects of my family of origin history, I am finding that I will be able to now blog about some of the more pleasant histories of my ancestors. Certainly there are rich histories there, some colorful characters waiting to be introduced to my children and grandchildren.
And lately it has occurred to me that I spent many hours listening to stories from my maternal grandmother. What a treasure trove of stories there is there, all filed away in my head.
Of course, my Mother-in-Law has also filled my ears with stories of her ancestors, I remember much of it.
And I did get a chance to sit with my paternal grandfather a few times, and have heard a bit of his life in Finland.
I believe it will do my spirit good to begin to write of my Finnish ancestors, and in doing so I will hopefully leave a readable series of blogs, that may in some future time be read by my children or grandchildren.
I am Jim.