Shar­ing Com­mon Needs

Porterville Recorder - - RELIGION - Judy Low­ery Judy Low­ery lives in Michi­gan. The Good News col­umn ap­pears reg­u­larly in The Porter­ville Recorder. You can read more at Judy’s blog, good­newswith­judy.blogspot.com

About half of our re­cent trip to Scan­di­navia was spent in Nor­way, trav­el­ing first in a clock­wise loop from Oslo Har­bor back to that city, then fly­ing from there to Tromso, north of the Arc­tic Cir­cle. A large por­tion of Nor­way’s pop­u­la­tion live in or around Oslo, the cap­i­tal city. Easy to un­der­stand—the coun­try has a long rugged coast­line and is moun­tain­ous, not to men­tion the frigid win­ter weather.

While in Oslo, we were given a guided tour through the city hall and Frogner Park which con­tains over 200 sculp­tures by Nor­we­gian artist, Gus­tav Vige­land. Us­ing bronze, gran­ite and wrought iron, Vige­land cre­ated fig­ures of men, women and chil­dren, some alone, oth­ers in groups. The stat­ues were sculpted nude to con­vey the things we all share in com­mon, re­gard­less of time pe­ri­ods, cul­ture, eco­nomic sta­tus and race. Hu­man re­la­tion­ships, ex­pe­ri­ences, emo­tions and the con­ti­nu­ity from one gen­er­a­tion to the next were por­trayed.

The fo­cal point from al­most any­where in the park was a pil­lar of stone at the top of a large plat­form, sculpted to re­sem­ble peo­ple climb­ing up­wards, each upon the shoul­ders of those un­der­neath, the ones on the bot­tom be­ing crushed un­der the load, the ones at the top reach­ing for the sky. Reach­ing for heaven? Try­ing to reach a lofty goal at the ex­pense of oth­ers? De­scend­ing in all di­rec­tions from the pil­lar were se­ries of stairs, with gi­gan­tic stone sculp­tures posed on pedestals, peo­ple sit­ting to­gether, cou­ples, chil­dren with par­ents or grand­par­ents and oth­ers all by them­selves.

One sec­tion of the park had a large foun­tain, the basin of which was sup­ported on the shoul­ders of six mighty men, all in bronze. Dozens of clus­ters of metal­lic trees sur­rounded the foun­tain, each har­bor­ing peo­ple or one per­son in some stage of life from baby­hood to death. An­other sculp­ture that Vige­land called “The Wheel of Life, re­sem­bled a dif­fi­cult syn­chro­nized swim­ming stunt, where swim­mers form a cir­cu­lar chain by each hook­ing their toes around the neck of the other!

The woman who was tak­ing us through the park po­si­tioned our group on the steps next to a few large stat­ues for a pic­ture. It was funny to view the photo later, with us smil­ing and mostly un­aware of the back­drop of nude stat­ues! Oh well! Life!

Later that day, we vis­ited the city hall where the No­bel Peace Prize is awarded an­nu­ally to those who have been out­stand­ing ad­vo­cates of peace through­out the world. Gus­tav Vige­land de­signed the medal, us­ing the face of Swe­den’s Al­fred No­bel who is cred­ited among other things for in­vent­ing dy­na­mite!

Ac­cord­ing to our lo­cal guide, dur­ing the 1890’s No­bel’s death was re­ported to a lo­cal news­pa­per. The fa­mous in­ven­tor, still liv­ing at the time, was sur­prised and shocked when he read his obit­u­ary! The ar­ti­cle em­pha­sized the harm No­bel brought into the world with the de­struc­tive po­ten­tial of dy­na­mite. Want­ing to leave be­hind a legacy that would be pos­i­tive, he made pro­vi­sions in his will for five an­nual awards in Chem­istry, Physics, Medicine, Lit­er­a­ture and Peace to peo­ple world­wide who were out­stand­ing in those ar­eas.

Af­ter sight­see­ing in Oslo, our tour group flew to Tromso, home of the world’s most north­ern uni­ver­sity and botan­i­cal gar­dens. Lots of peo­ple were out train­ing for cross coun­try ski sea­son us­ing skis on wheels or skates. Then it was on to Alta, cross­ing fjords by ferry with views of glaciers on the Lyn­gen Alps along the way.

An ex­cur­sion to the UN­ESCO World Her­itage site that af­ter­noon gave us the op­por­tu­nity to see stone age rock carv­ings on pol­ished gran­ite slabs near the ocean. Stick fig­ures of peo­ple fish­ing in ca­noes and hunt­ing rein­deer us­ing spears and bows and ar­rows por­trayed some of the as­pects of life in that des­o­late area long, long ago.

The rock carv­ings also drew at­ten­tion to those things all peo­ple have shared in com­mon through the ages: the quest for food and liv­ing to­gether in com­mu­nity. Not pic­tured in the carv­ings or Vige­land’s sculp­tures, our com­mon need for love, ac­cep­tance and self worth.

If we val­ued and loved oth­ers, how much bet­ter the world would be. If we found ways to leave be­hind a pos­i­tive legacy, every­one would ben­e­fit. Lord help us!

“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord re­quire of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 NIV

PHOTO BY AL LOW­ERY

Rock Carv­ings near Alta, Nor­way.

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