Chapter 28

’Because of your light we see the light’

 I receive a postcard with a flower motive, and a text from the ”Book of Psalms”. In Norwgian the text goes like this:

            For hos deg Herre er livets kilde,

            i ditt lys ser vi lys.

              In my South African Bible:

              You are the source of all life,

            and because of your light we see the light.

              The postcard, with a brief letter written on it, is sent to me by a woman who has been a missionary. I was in touch with her when I was working on my ”missionary novel”,”Terra roxa”,in 1981.  Her first name is a common Norwegian name, but I think she wants anonymity so I call her by the initial only; K.

            A personal reply I’ll give to her over the phone.

             Here is my reply to her, written for this book:

            ”Dear K,

            Thank you for your letter. It was very nice to hear from you after all those years.

             I’m sorry to say that I still do not beleive that the Lord is the source of life. I think that the light we see is created not by the Lord, but by physical forces of the Universe. So I’m the disbeleiver I was when we last met.

            You have read in the interview with me in the newspaper Vårt Land that I have got cancer. You write that you sincerely hope that I shall win over the ugly disease. Thank you for your good wish. I think I’m winning now.

            I feel I am unworthy of the prayers you have said for me when you have thought about me.

            You write that you grew up in a Christian family and that your father was a clergyman.  (I didn’t know that he was.) In your whole life you have lived with the faith of Jesus Christ, and it has been a rich life, you say. I do not doubt that.

             Can I say that my life has been rich? I think so. I have had the good luck to be able to be creative also during periods of bad health and other hardships. I have my family to rely on.

           But how different our lives have been when it comes to faith! You the believer, me the disbeleiver.

            You write that the Lord dearly wants me as his child, and that he wants to give me his strong hand to grasp on to in stormy weather. In the Vårt Land interview I called this hand ”the mighty skipper fist of God”. In some of the letters I have received from Christians like you, ”the mighty skipper fist of God” is mentioned. I am absolutely honest when I say that I envy you the beleif in such a hand. But I am also absolutely honest when I say that I cannot beleive in God’s hand.

            You tell me that you will pray more for me. I thank you for your very kind consideration. Since I have not changed, I still do not beleive in prayers as a means to get in touch with a divine power. But I do beleive in the communication between humans, across the frontiers of faith and no faith.

            You wish that God bless me. That wish I cannot return. But when you wish that I shall have energy and joy, it is easy for me to return the wish.

            All the best.

            Yours sincerely,


             It is Whitsun Monday evening, one of the wonderful, blonde Nordic evenings. The time is a quarter past nine, but the sun is still not below the horizon. It is going down over the hills on the other side of the Oslo Fjord. The light is golden. Because of the sun and the other stars we see the light from heaven.

            I go out on the veranda. I shiver a little. It must be because of the cold swims.

            In a village on the coast not very far from here a woman, K, is perhaps saying prayers for me at this moment.

            I am glad if she does, even if I do not think prayers work. It is a sign of love, of which we have not too much in this country. I like the picture I see of a white-painted house on the coast of Norway with a woman inside it, the woman kneeling in prayers and thinking thoughts that I cannot think. And thinking some thoughts that I can think; that we better be friendly towards each other, we who are small and relatively poor human beings, in the short span of life which is given to us.

             I have written like I have been intoxicated. A whole book in a little more than a month’s time.

            Maybe I should start my own Book of the month-club and publish a new book in English every month?

            Or maybe it’s all rubbish, and that if there was such an arrangement as The Norwegian Championship of Shallow Thinking about Religion, I should participate and be a sure winner. Then we have The World Championship of Wretched Writing in English, arranged by the Lousy, Miserable & Rotten Organization of Wannabe Authors with Amateur Knowledge of the English Language. Perhaps I would not win the gold medal, but I could go for the bronze medal.

            Oh, no. Go away bad jokes, go away despair, go away black thoughts! 

            Done is done, and all good things and all crazy things have to come to an end.

              The evening sky is pink,

              the Blood Tree is red.

              This book will float, not sink.

               It is written with my blood as ink.

                I go to bed.  

       Chapter 27