A few years ago our dear friend John got married. Over the course of the time we were in town for the wedding, we got to know another friend of the groom’s who had come all the way from Sweden. It turned out that she and John became friends while they were both living and working in Palestine. As we ogled at Josefin’s photos of Scandinavian paradises, she invited us to visit her in Sweden. I said, “Don’t mess with me, because I will come.” She was serious. And just to prove it, a few months later she Facebook-messaged me asking if and when we could come that summer. So Josh and I went to visit Josefin and her husband, and it was the start of beautiful friendships.
Given, however, that Sweden is very far away, Josefin and I make due with writing to each other between visits. In our world of fast-paced communication, I can’t describe how intensely refreshing it is to have a pen pal. I love how the letters allow for more intimacy but also more structure. Most of all, I love reading Josefin’s writing. She is quite an extraordinary writer, and I can only imagine what she is capable of in her own language. For example, in her last letter, she talked about her recent trip back to Israel and Palestine. Josefin, I hope you don’t mind, but I was so struck by your description I wanted to show it off:
It was wonderful and amazing but also awful and ugly to be back. The region of contrasts. Workshops about peace, stories giving you hope – and others making you lose it. Seeing old friends, getting to know new ones. Expensive wine mixed with cheap falafel. Almond trees flowering in the day, teargas shooting at night. Dear Israel and Palestine. Maybe it’s the contrast and the presence of life, and death, that hooks me there. I both hate and love that place. Keep longing to go back. Always.
In honor of my Swedish friend’s love of the Holy Lands, on this Photo Friday I am delighted share a mashup of photos from Stockholm and Israel. Enjoy!