Sweden has been shaken over recent months by repeated violent crimes. Just as we were leaving Orsa after our last holiday (6 weeks ago now) we heard on the news of a teenage girl murdered in Mora, the town closest to Orsa and a regular destination for us. Then a month or so ago there was the shocking news of the murder of two young children in a town near Örebro, together with the attempted murder of their mother. The mother was unconscious for some weeks, but finally woke up to the horrific news that her family had been taken from her. Then just a week ago a ten year old girl was abducted and murdered as she cycled home from soccer training. She also lived in a small community in the countryside, and was known and loved by many. Her assailant was found, arrested, and confessed to the murder yesterday.
Maria has been particularly affected by this recent story, barely able to think of anything else these last days. The question of “why?” remains unanswered and we are left pondering the evil that exists in some people’s hearts and minds. With our Christian worldview we understand the reality of evil in humanity, but we are nevertheless shocked by its expression, especially when it is as cruel and stupid as this. We struggle to come to terms with our modern legal system, which seems to avoid real justice by excusing and minimising the evil that men carry out. We struggle to come to terms with the idea of forgiveness, which goes so much against our human instincts.
Hanna is also traumatised by the idea of death at the moment, and prefers not to talk about it at all. On Friday we had a trip to the famous Vasa Museum in Stockholm. I was keen to whet the kids appetite for history and museums and Stockholm. It backfired with Hanna. As soon as she discovered that the sinking of the Vasa on its maiden voyage was accompanied by the drowning of 50 or so people on board, she wanted only to leave. It was all too much for her.
Death is always in our midst. It is a reality which we conveniently ignore most of the time. But sometimes it is thrust too plainly in our faces to avoid it. The challenge is to have hope in the midst of so much hopelessness. And to remember that their is also good in mens’ hearts, the remnant of God in our lives, which goes someway to balancing the evil.