Swedish crime novels and TV series, like Wallander have, surprisingly, become the latest trend within the UK’s insatiable appetite for ‘who dunnits’. The dark intensity of the characters involved seem to resonate with the great British viewing public.
I’d like to tell you my own little Swedish tale that provides a powerful poignant twist as you shall see.
Recently while on holiday in Tenerife, a haven for the migrating Swedes who swop the frozen temperatures of their homeland for the balmy sun drenched beaches of the Spanish island, I met my friends Sture and Margot Ogren.
Sture and Margot spend the winter on Tenerife, playing and singing ‘Gospel’ songs for anyone who will listen.
Anyway here is the little story they reported to me over a cup of Swedish coffee and a very tasty cinnamon bun.
In the resort of Los Christianos on the southern end of the island lies a little Swedish Lutheran Tourist church, nestling on the seafront between the competing multitude of bars and cafes.
One Sunday morning a few weeks ago, a homeless man turned up at the morning service, smelling from all accounts, to high heaven. The stewards were at first reticent to allow him entry, probably suspecting ulterior motives on top of his hygiene problems. Fortunately the new lady pastor of the church would have none of it and welcomed the man in, mildly rebuking her congregations response to the visitor in their midst.
Towards the end of the service the man, a Swede himself who’d been living rough on the island for over 20 years, surprised all present by coming forward to take Communion. As the congregation milled around once the service was over ,the visitor seemed to have disappeared back into the busy tourist packed promenade that lay on the other side of the church entrance.
However the man had departed through another door that only he was to pass through that morning.
As one of the gentlemen in the congregation visited the church’s restroom he found more than he bargained for; the body of the homeless visitor lying on its cold tiled floor. The visitor had taken his final communion, indeed his final breath in the reality in which he’d lived as an outsider for so long. Now he was home, in the Presence of a Love that had called Him into that little Lutheran church, a portal through which he would pass, leaving behind his deep-seated rejection in the world of men.
Can this little tale beat a Wallander drama for sheer intensity? I certainly think so.