Summer left as fast as it came in. Nonetheless, it’s been such a blast with the most anticipated event of my summer being, my trip to Nigeria. For those of you who don’t know much about me, I was born in Finland. However, my parents are originally from Nigeria, located in West Africa. To start with, my trip came unexpectedly. It was due to my grandmother’s sudden passing. The news was joyful yet painful when it came. Joyful for the fact that she had lived a long life, with the privilege of seeing many generations of descendants. But I will no longer be able to spend time with my last living grandparent as was my plan for the coming fall.
Growing up in Finland, I had been raised to adapt to Finnish culture and yet feeling odd -calling myself Finnish. Maybe some of you reading this post understand what I mean when I speak about this subject. I don’t feel Finnish nor do I look like the typical/average Finn. Nigeria is where I have my family and my roots, so you can only imagine how much I was looking forward to this trip to Nigeria after 11 long years.
But remember, the funeral was the reason I took this trip. This was only the second funeral I have attended in my whole life. Ironic how foreign the experience was, being at a funeral in the unknown land of heritage. Truth be told, despite the mixed emotions I came into the event with, it turned out to be one of the most joyous ceremonies I’ve ever been to. For the first time, I experienced losing someone close to me, but I had joy knowing this beautiful women left a legacy that will not die. We celebrated her life rather than death.
And This was done with such vibrant colors and patterns! Definitely something I wasn’t sure to expect considering the circumstances. There were no black hats, dresses, and scarves typical to my concept of funerals. We remembered and celebrated with bright colors and patterns that almost seem to permit any tears of sorrow. It was almost as if she wouldn't allow us to be sad. Looking back I know that she wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
The colors of my ancestry have given me a renewed sense of identity. I love the joy of the people, the gratefulness they had for life, the pride they have in who they are and what they have to give to the world. But most of all it spurred me to consider the question of my citizenship with a much deeper meaning than I had previously thought.
Am I Nigerian or Finnish, both, or neither? The Bible states in Philippians 3:20, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."
Today I have a mindset more on the essence of what’s to come after life here on earth and my true citizenship in Heaven.
It makes me glad to know that I have an eternity to spend there getting to know people like my grandmother who I really didn’t get to know here on earth. Imagine that! Thank you for letting me share a piece of my summer with you. I encourage you to be proud of all the aspects of your heritage, embrace each piece in some way, but recognize that our real home will be in the life to come. Don't get too comfortable here. It is but a vapor. ;)