I was sitting on the bank of a small, glacial lake just north of Oslo, with a view of a mountain covered with towering Norwegian pines. Towheaded children, with whom I could communicate only through smiles, waded in the cold water and laughed with delight at tiny fish that circled their feet.
I had encountered relatives of the fish - second cousins twice removed, perhaps, but in the same family, to be sure - just the week before. I was on a picnic with the young girls from our inner-city neighborhood with whom I study the Bible every week. They begged me by turn to catch the fish in paper cups for carrying from the stream to various jars and bowls at home deemed suitable by the girls for the fish's new existence. They longed for a piece of "the country" to carry back to the concrete and stifling summer heat of the city. Fortunately for the fish, they were well schooled in evasive maneuvers.
The memory of that day made me realize how far away home was. I was in Norway speaking at a Christian conference called "KORSVEI," which in Norwegian means "Crossroads." It was a place for Scandinavian Christians to meet, enjoy community together, and nurture discipleship.
I was invited to bring into the beautiful setting of lakes and pines a glimpse of "the other Washington" - the one that doesn't get covered in Norwegian newspapers. I talked about our Saturday morning food line, about piles of furniture on our streets that signal another eviction and people whose only homes are downtown steam grates.