A poem, flower and a ring,
Holding this within our heart,
Even the peasant becomes a king,
Through the land of enchanted love,
Rising above cloud and rain,
Moving beyond the insane,
This is where dreams are made,
Where dues are paid,
In exchange for the hope of “imagination”.
A few days ago I asked the woman that I love to marry me. She said yes and now we are engaged. We don’t even know what this fully entails. Apparently in Swedish culture, upon discussing this with some Sanna’s family here in Sweden, it is more traditional for both the bride and groom to exchange rings at the time of engagement, and it is only the bride who gets a wedding ring (Hang on a sec! That means we’ve done this backwards as I’ve just given a Sanna a ring, and I figured we would exchange rings at some point in the future when we get married?).
I had no idea of the particulars of how one should propose to a Swede, many questions crossed my mind, like whether I should ask her father beforehand, or even what would be a good thing to say? In fact the only ones who really knew on my side were my two brothers back in Australia and New Zealand, whom I told of my intention at the beginning of the year. However, in terms of this proposal I needed some specific help. Lucky for me, I happened to sit next to a man who looks about my age on the plane from Brussels to Stockholm, who also originated from outside Sweden (ie in Portugal) and married a Swede. I learned from him the Swedish words for “will you marry me?” which gave me much needed confidence in the secret mission that I was about to embark upon, however, this lesson was followed by a subtle warning that if I was not careful with my pronunciation I could easily be stating that I wanted to be poisoned! I thought about telling him that this was a bit ironic as I had recently been awarded a PhD in the field of Toxicology (poisoning) – but perhaps this was going sound a little strange, so I just made a mental note “say “Vill du gifta dig med mig?” (pronounced Vil-du yifta-day-med-may)
The actually proposal was like magic, I had to keep it all secret as I figure I didn’t want to tell anyone. The perfect spot on top of the lookout at Trysunda island where Sanna visited regularly growing up, which was also one of my favourite places on the planet. But still there was so much doubt, with the ring in my backpack, the words in my head. My mind was riddled with a series of “what if” type questions, as it easily can be when taking important decisions about my life. These worries are all to do with the future and completely ignore the wisdom of the present.
Lucky for me the skill of meditation and the craft of writing are two things that came to my rescue in a time of need. A short sit, and a little bit of journal time in the boathouse on Trysunda Island created the space to connect with my heart. It was clear to me in that moment that there really was no right time, So on this occasions, as with almost all the most significant decisions that I have made in my life, the answers have come from within, only if I dare to ask.
On Facebook it looked like a fairytale proposal, and it really was looking back, but what is not shown on these made-over social communications channels like Facebook are ally the not so shiny bits. In addition to the normal fear and trepidation that had to first be overcome, which of course included the fear of her saying “no thanks”, the morning rain had set in. However, I was determined to go for a walk, rain or shine and share a morning moment with Sanna. For some reason in that moment the Angels were showering there blessings upon us and the rain cleared. The was just enough time to pass on a blue-bell flower, and read the romantic poem that I had written the night before, followed by a ring and my line in Swedish (quickly followed by the English translation to avoid any incorrect assumptions). Well let’s just say that she said “yes”, we were elated, and I was very relieved and, well, the rest is history as they say. It seems now, even after a few days that it was so the right thing to do, and all the doubts and fears seemed to quickly disappear into the Trysunda mist.
Leaving Sweden! “Tack” for the wonderful time :)
It is with great gratitude and joy that I now look back on the wonderful week that we have both experienced in Sweden. However, now we have to drive to the airport and say goodbye to those we love and care about. Whilst I know we are not alone in this all too common problem where families are scattered around the country and globe – it still doesn’t make the separation any easier to take.
When I reflect upon the trials and tribulations of even the most happy occasions in life, such as getting engaged – perhaps the real magic lies not in the sun streaming down from the skies when a ring is held out in front of the one you love, but in the ability to see “beyond the clouds” and focus on gold that is always looking at you straight in the eye.
To all our family and friends who have sent such warm congratulatory wishes in phone calls, emails, and in notes on social media. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
We don’t know much about when, where or how the wedding will be, but all will become clearer in the months to come. Let’s just say that we both strongly believe that “life is an adventure”, (albeit with plenty of ups and downs), so at some point in the future we really hope to be riding that wave called marriage!
Lots of love from us both!