I have just returned from Norway where I went to attend the funeral and burial of our friend Kåre Sekkesæter in Ranheim Church just outside Trondheim, following his sudden death on 12th June. It was so good to be with his family (Gunnvor, Bjørn, Irene, Geir, Hans Olav, whom we’ve known since 1983, and their families) as well as their friends, some of whom I know. I was grateful to Kjell Ivar, Eldbjørg and Bjørg for looking after me.
It was an example, in various ways, of “Crossing Cultures and Finding Freedom”. There was the obvious cultural boundary between Norwegian and English life and customs. I have forgotten most of the Norwegian in learnt in the 1980s, but there are many feelings which can still be expressed across cultural boundaries which don’t need words – hugs and tears, smiles and laughter, and sheer presence and being, are some of the most powerful (as well as sharing of food and photos). However, I was grateful to those who were able to speak English so that we could also share memories in words.
Kåre has crossed what is perhaps the ultimate cultural boundary by passing through death, a path which we shall all have to take sooner or later, no matter what cultures we are living in. This is one of many things which unites us across cultures.
The Preface to the Catholic funeral liturgy says, “Life is not ended, but merely changed.” At the end of my autobiography (the first draft, anyway!), I have written:
“Is dying the ultimate experience of crossing cultures and finding freedom? I think it probably is; but I won’t be able to tell you if it is – we shall each have to find out for ourselves when we come to that point of physical death.”
I especially like a quotation about life after death by Ilia Delio: “Heaven is not a place of eternal rest or a long sleep-in, but a life of creativity and newness in love; one with God in the transformation of all things.”
So Kåre, and all our other dear family and friends who have already crossed over the ultimate boundary, are still active in the world because of being united with God who continues his loving work of creation and transformation.