To Become Alive / Att bli levande

Photo Credit: Ulla-Stina Johansson

Your experience Kevin resonated profoundly in me. When you listened deeply, in searching for a sense of self, an uninvited Trappist monk connected with you – and you came alive. As if listening deeply for life could be as a calling to the universe and something from beyond answered you. Could this be possible?

In the beginning of the nineties I was on a similar journey, in my longing to become alive and be myself. My travel led me to an Orthodox Monastery, named New Valamo, in Finland. During the winter war 1939, some 190 monks fled from Valamo Monastery in Russia. They founded a refuge and a new home in a mansion in the east of Finland. To have somewhere to live they had to rebuild the old barn into monk’s cells. The monks lived and prayed in the barn for years. It was possible for me, as a visitor, to stay in one of the old monk´s cells in the barn. And of course, it was an offer I could not refuse.

The whole night I had deep dreams which felt as some sort of inner rebuilding of my whole life. For the next few days, I walked around the monastery without any thoughts, feelings or words. But with tears constantly pouring down, gently melting, cleansing and making me soft and receiving. I was filled with awe that made me feel fresh and alive.

Ulla-Stina Johansson

Kevin, din erfarenhet gav ett gensvar från djupet i mig. När du lyssnade efter och sökte dig själv, kom en oinbjuden trappistmunk till dig och såg in i din själ – och du blev levande. Som om ett djupt lyssnande efter livet kan vara som ett rop ut i universum, och något från bortom svarar. Kan detta vara möjligt?

I början av nittiotalet var jag på en liknande resa, i min längtan efter att bli levande och vara mig själv. Min färd ledde mig till ett ortodoxt kloster, New Valamo, i Finland. Under vinterkriget 1939 flydde omkring 190 munkar från Valamo kloster i Ryssland. De grundade en tillflykt och ett nytt hem i en herrgård i östra Finland. För att ha någonstans att bo behövde de bygga om den gamla ladugården till munkceller. Munkarna bodde och bad i ladan i flera år. Det var möjligt för mig som besökare att bo i en av de gamla munkcellerna i ladan. Och det var självklart ett erbjudande som jag inte kunde tacka nej till.

Jag drömde hela natten och det kändes som en slags inre ombyggnad av hela mitt liv. Under de närmaste dagarna gick jag runt klostret utan några tankar, känslor eller ord. Men med tårar ständigt rinnande, som varsamt smälte och renade mig och gjorde mig mjuk och mottagande. Jag blev fylld av vördnad och jag kände mig nyfödd och levande.

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3 thoughts on “To Become Alive / Att bli levande”

  1. Beautiful story Ulla-Stina. I imagine you finding your way to the monastery at just the right time in your life, and receiving the gentle cleansing shower of tears at many levels simultaneously. It is poignant that the monks there would have been refugees, and therefore felt the need to cultivate a deep compassion that is able to hold many souls on all sides of a historic moment of trauma to a whole generation.

  2. Dear Ana,

    I was moved by your response. I got reminded of it, because it still resides in me. This blessed days in the Monastery! It must be written in eternity when something comes back like this?

    I liked that you to relate that the monks were refugees and in that cultivated a deep compassion to be able to hold souls in trauma beyond space and time. It says “yes” in me!

    I could relate to that. I am not a refugee and I have never been in virtual danger, but I have always felt that I live in exile. The concept “existential migration” that the psychologist and focuser Greg Madison created in his book “The End of Belonging” speaks deeply to me.

    Now also that experience talk back to me. To be able to be in an open space, in not knowing and in transcendence is connected to experiences of vulnerability, pain, trauma and powerlessness. And this paradox can give birth to compassion and being that holder we all long for.

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