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World March Blog
25 October 2009

Short repair stop in a Finnish cottage

Isabelle embarque pour la paix!

Isabelle embarque pour la paix!

Two of us were chosen at random to cover an event in Finland, in the village of Savonlinna, near a lake on the side of which there is a charming cottage in the woods where we spent the night. Micky Hirsch and I left the rest of the group on Friday evening in Moscow to take the night train and arrived in Finland the next morning. An easy night in the sleeping car and a “poetic sequence” with the Russian controller who leant on the edge of the window, between me and Micky, all three of us with hands on cheeks, together watching the journey over the border between Russia and Finland: a road to the middle of nowhere! For me, this moment was touching because in that moment the border was just the other side of the glass… We were like three urchins, noses pressed to the glass, watching the most extraordinary thing in the world!

The March coordinator, Juha Uski, came to find us in Kovola station and we headed for Savonlinna, a small town of 20,000 people that has especially organised an activity for the March. The base team had to send a detachment of at least 2 people! We were received by a young couple of farmers on horse back. At 10pm we arrived a few metres from the lake, in a little hut on the water side where we were going to spend the night after having a good sauna in a purest local style! We ended up sleeping for about 6 hours and that for us is great! We have such need of it… The light came from candles and we had to get used to a perfect silence. In the morning, I treated my cold with another trip to the sauna and dressed up warm because it’s lightly snowing. The morning’s adventure is to get to a tiny islet, 50m by 20m, in the middle of the lake (!) and unfurl our Finnish banner there! With Micky and Juha, we jump into the boat and row, shivering but as happy as children. We plant our feet firmly on Rapakko Island which we declare “an international mini-zone of peace and nonviolence”! I bless the presence of three mushrooms, a few square centimetres of moss, 40 or so rocks and 12 trees.

Sur l'îlot fraîchement déclaré "zone internationale de paix et de nonviolence"

Sur l'îlot fraîchement déclaré "zone internationale de paix et de nonviolence"

On the island freshly declared “an international mini-zone of peace and nonviolence”, I call a dear friend in France. She tells me that her husband has come out of his depression and the whole family can breathe again. It’s the best news I’ve had since leaving home because I love them dearly. My friend has managed to make the choice of celebrating life after several months of doubts and indecision. Since my departure, I feel carried away in such a soup of life and joy that I have, more than ever, the conviction that goodness is to be found in the heart of the present and not in the reassessment of our old wounds. It’s in a hug with a Bangladeshi woman that my soul is cleansed or its roughness. It’s while watching the border go by with a malicious Russian controller that I feel lighter. It’s when dancing with street children in Kathmandu that I clarify my future. It’s ok to contemplate one’s ancient history on the condition that you don’t get stuck down there. Repairs happen in the here and now, in the magic of an encounter transmuted into an instant of happiness savoured in the consciousness. I have this experience everyday on this March. Today I dedicate my happiness to my French friends and to their children. I am proud of them. For their part and in their way, they are also marching for peace.

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