D is for Dans
One particular ‘dans’ (dance in English) stands out in my mind. In 1996 I attended the international Quaker gathering on Barnens Ö (Children’s Island) in Sweden, and while there came into contact with Swedish Quakers for the first time. The first night of the gathering was memorable. After supper in our particular house (the participants lived in various houses spread over the site) the host announced that the dishwasher wasn’t working and could she please have a few volunteers to wash the dishes by hand. As I enjoy washing-up my arm shot up into the air, along with those of a few others.
There were a lot of dishes and pots and pans to wash, and it took quite a bit of time to get everything clean and dried. As we worked we chatted and got to know each other a little better. We came from different countries, so our curiosity was great. When everything was finished, and the kitchen area had emptied, Gunnar remarked on how much space there was now that everyone had gone. I responded by saying that yes, we could even dance in it! What an idea, said Gunnar, and we promptly began to do just that!
That spontaneous ‘dans’ in the kitchen signalled the start of a friendship with Gunnar, and later with his wife, Elfi, that lasted until one and then the other passed away. When I came to Sweden in 1999 as the first Visiting Friend for the Europe and Middle East Section (EMES) of the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), it was Gunnar who translated a talk that I gave at the Friends Centre in Stockholm and it was Elfi who made sure that I was well and truly cared for during my stay.
If there is any message or moral in this story it is – Dare to Dans! You never know where it might lead.