Travelogue of July, Part 1: Hitchhiker's Delight

Greetings of love and peace to you all, my family of Earth-incarnated souls-in-awakening. I've had the grace opportunity to spend four weeks this July on a trip through Finland, hitchhiking with a dear friend and meeting many beautiful brothers and sisters along the way. The trip culminated in two timeless weeks of communion and healing at the Finnish Rainbow Gathering in Hailuoto, an island paradise just a few kilometres from where I live. I've wanted to share something of what I've experienced here with you, but I still don't know what I could possibly say that wouldn't bore the hell out of you to read it... ;-) so I'll just dive in and write something anyway.

Hitchhiking has been a dream of mine since I was a teenager, riding with my dad on long road trips to the wild hunting grounds of northern British Columbia and the sunny, fertile orchards of the Interior. I would gaze at the scenic mountain highway and imagine walking there, far from home, thumbing rides from sympathetic truck drivers and other like-minded motorists. This summer, thanks to fate and a fearless visionary sister who accompanied and supported me, I was able to realize that dream for the first time. Our way brought its share of small trials, but mostly it was miracle after miracle and gift upon gift.

We started by going to the giant happening known as suviseurat, a gathering of the conservative Laestadian "revival movement" in which I was raised. Having more recently, since leaving on my own spiritual path three years ago, made the acquaintance of many whose childhood and youth were much harder than my own, I've come to appreciate more deeply what a gift it was to be able to grow up in such a safe environment, with such a large and close-knit family, both in the nuclear sense (parents and 13 younger siblings) and in the faith community. In the six-plus years I've been in Finland, I've been to all the suvis but one, last year. Each time has been more enjoyable and rewarding than the last, or so it seems looking back. (This year's event in Lumijoki drew a record 90,000 guests.) It may be the fact that I've had time to intellectually explore and sort through the world on my own and experience life from an outside-the-box perspective while seeking answers to life's fundamental questions that now allows me to receive from what's preached there the kernels of wisdom and truth on a deeper level than before. In any case, many of the sermons and songs there touched my heart and soul at least as powerfully as they ever did when I was a believer, but now with a greater clarity and conviction. The rest, I admit, went largely in one ear and out the other (grin). Not worth getting hung up on points of disagreement when there's so much to enjoy otherwise just by being present with the beauty of the moment: the skies, the moods, the people...

My friend and I found a ride leaving the grounds on Monday for Jyväskylä in central Finland. Along the way we had an interesting conversation with a believing lady in her 60s whose present career is in reflexology. Proof, I guess, that a conservative religious belief system need not exclude the use of alternative healing modalities. (I knew a believing woman some years ago who practiced NLP as well. Come to think of it, a high proportion of the believers I know are quite broad-minded and self-aware individuals in spite of the dogmatic, patriarchal nature of the movement's leadership. Application of the "sheeple" epithet in any case might reveal more the arrogance/bitterness/frustration of the one using the term...) Our conversation ended on a rather sad note, however, once the subject of faith came up. It was no surprise to me, but my friend was disappointed to see how unaccepted was her personal faith on the basis of differences of view, and on her latitude of view on what makes a valid spiritual path. It's the "just us" fundie element that probably causes the most needless misery and conflict in connection with the movement. (sigh) Anyway, pointless rant, moving on.

Jyväskylä is a beautiful area with lakes and (almost) mountains that remind me of home in BC. It's also my birthplace and a former hometown of my travel companion. We spent a couple of nights there, one camping out next to the ski jump made famous by Matti Nykänen, and the other at a friend's place. (The ski jump also happens to be the site of my near-attempt at suicide three years ago, chronicled here.) Lovely people were met, important things happened, and our road continued to open up with good fortune in the way of rides and happy times. We made it to Joensuu, eastern Finland, in one evening. There we stayed two days and three nights camping, chilling with a local friend and enjoying the town. Then it was back on the road to Kuopio by thumb, and Paukarlahti by bus.

Paukarlahti County was the location of last year's European Rainbow, quite a large gathering which I unfortunately missed at the time. We were out of the loop as to where the Finnish Rainbow was being held this year, so Paukarlahti was our best shot at finding it. But first we had to find the right place! Walked all night looking for it, checking every side road along the whole length of the rural municipality. Exhausted, we finally gave up and made camp next to the cemetery... and in the morning, discovered that we'd actually found the right place by accident! We met the lady of the farm, who invited us to stay on the Rainbow site proper and informed us of this year's location in Hailuoto. The day and night we spent at the Paukarlahti site felt like an entire week - it was such a magical place and we lived so fully in the moment.

More hitchhiking adventure and answered prayers took us to Hailuoto, and that is where the story continues....


    Namaste brother, sound like a great trip.

    In Lak' ech, prosper in love...


    Kiitos Chris, it was indeed a powerful and positive experience.

    Part 2 so far defies articulation... but I'll post something about it when the words come and the moment fits. :)

    ~blessings always~


    Hi there!

    Your home was BC? That's where I am! Where did you live exactly?

    I adore it here - the most beautiful place I've ever experienced. Heaven surrounds me. (All the pictures on my blog are from my immediate area, including the background image.)

    Love, Erin


    Hi again Wiiliam....
    No answer? Are you checking your comments?


    Hi Erin,

    I apologize, I really do. Your wonderful comment unfortunately came at a bad time for me, as I was truly deep in the ****hole of depression and not capable of mustering the will to do anything, even to answer a blog comment. Time passed, I felt better, and what with everything going on, it just slipped my mind. I'm sorry.

    To answer your comment — yes, B.C. is where I grew up, living there from age 5 until age 20. After 6 years in Finland, it still feels like home. I miss the tall trees, the mountains, the rivers and lakes. Finland is very beautiful too, but for sheer vertical scale and grandeur, it doesn't compare. My family still lives in Mission, just up the Fraser Valley from Greater Vancouver. I believe I will be returning there just as soon as I can afford to fly...

    Your pictures do look heavenly. You are very lucky to live with such exquisite natural beauty. Heaven does exist on earth, and that is exactly what I've been meaning to write about in the other half of this 'travelogue.' It just seems beyond words to describe... but I know I can say something intelligible, once I just start to say it. ;)

    Thank you, Erin. I'm feeling much better today and I'm glad you came by to tap me on the shoulder.

    Blessings and much love,