* Tack För Idag – Thoughts On Faith

17 Seconds #72 – A Publication For Clients And Other VIPs.

My Mormor and Morfar in Lapland (just west of Raattama, Finland), summer 1987.

“Tack för idag” means “thank you for today” in Swedish. My mother, Helena Heels, is from Finland and spoke Swedish as her first language. Her father, Yrjö Winter (1907-1987) was from Finland and spoke Finnish as his first language. My grandfather, my Morfar, was a Lutheran pastor in a Swedish-speaking congregation, and he learned Swedish so well that many of his parishioners thought it was his first language!

My American family visited my Finnish family in Finland three times in the 1970s. When we were staying at Mormor and Morfar’s home, Morfar would always say “tack för idag” at bedtime to me and to my brother, Mark. I tried to remember to say ‘thank you for today’ to my children every night, and I still try to say it to my wife (I don’t always remember). But I’ve always thought that those three words nearly perfectly represent the intersection of family, love, and faith.

When Morfar died in 1987, I decided to spend my “gap year” (not what we called it then, but what I had to do while waiting for my call to active duty in the USAF) in Finland, in honor of my grandfather. I always wondered what it would have been like to live in Finland, and for four months in 1988, I got to find out. I even learned basic conversational Finnish.

Morfar grew up in Karelia, in a part of Finland that now “belongs” to Russia. As part of his missionary work, he would smuggle Bibles into the former Soviet Union, declaring “I have a Bible” to the border guards. My understanding is that the word he used for “Bible” sounded like a similar word for “book” in whatever language was spoken.

In honor of my grandfather, I visited the Soviet Union in August, 1988. I also decided to smuggle in a Bible, knowing that I could be imprisoned for doing so. I did not hide the Bible, and the border guard just waved me through security without inspecting me or my belongings. The Soviet tour guide spoke with pride about the “glorious revolution” and “100% employment.” I saw the shining monuments to past victories, but I also saw empty shelves in stores and broken taxis. While I was there, I gave the Bible (which was in the Russian language) to a young Soviet couple and a Cracker Jack toy to a little boy, and from their smiles, I learned about the Soviet people. The situation was not black and white, as I had been taught. I also gained a renewed appreciation for our government, which allows its citizens to speak freely and to work for change.

One year after my visit, the Soviet Union was no more.

Fast forward to today. I had a Zoom call with a client this week. First we were talking about trademarks. Then, unexpectedly, we were talking about faith – shortly after she said that she would pray for me and Clocktower during this coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic/recession.

It occurred to me that although I write about many things (technology, law, baseball, rock ‘n’ roll) and even some controversial topics (politics), I had alluded to – but never written directly about – my faith. The same day as that Zoom call, I created a ‘faith’ category on my blog for those articles where I’d written indirectly about my faith.

Christianity, church, faith, God – it can all be very confusing and overwhelming. But what I believe is this. Love is a verb, love is what you do. And I think that faith is also a verb, faith is what you do. As church becomes more virtual, the distinction between “in church” and “out of church” diminishes. So I think I’m not going to draw any more artificial lines between “church Erik” and “work Erik” (or any other Eriks, for that matter). I’m going to try to be me – and to be more like Morfar. I’m going to try to verb it.


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