Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rekindled Youth

July 24, 2009

I had just snapped wide awake from deep sleep. It was disorienting. Looking at my watch … 9:15 … I thought at first it was morning. In the sub-Arctic the window light would give no clue. How had I possibly slept so late? I wondered. (I’m usually awake by 5 a.m.) Then I came to. I have comfortable quarters here at the Muklia Ungdomsenter og Leirskole and I was just awakening from a mid evening power nap. It would be accurate to say that the Pilgrim life is a wearying one. My feet are sore at the end of a day if the surfaces have been too rough or hard. Still, I’m invigorated, even energized. A month on the Olavsleden Pilgrim Way and I can count the days till I reach my Nidaros Cathedral goal on one hand’s fingers. I have the legs of a mountain goat in tough terrain. “Ungdom” signifies youth. There are choir singers—teenagers—here at the “senter” tonight. Perhaps I’m too tired to listen to them practice at 9:30 p.m.? Then the slight tap comes on my door. She is there, the young choir leader, come to invite me to the small musical performance. And I rouse myself from Pilgrim slumber for what? About 30 kids are assembled in an informal chapel room. One adult other than me. We live in a secular world—most evidently so in Lutheran Scandinavia. But I watch the thirty teenagers, boys and girls, conduct themselves through a simple, spiritual, religious ceremony with lit candles, readings, and song. They’ve slipped one English reading in, I have to imagine for me. A young girl reads it expressively. Their singing is peaceful. Next week they will travel to Trondheim to sing at the cathedral as part of the St. Olav’s Festival days. They will be 90 strong by then. With a little luck, I’ll be able to catch them there.

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