Østerlars church has two entries, the North door reserved for women and the South door for men. As I mentioned in my first postcard the våbenhuset, the armoury, is in front of the South door enabling men to leave their arms and head-wear before entering into God’s house to take part in worship.
Most gentlemen will remember to do so. I see parents explaining the gesture of respect to their boys The more rebellious teenagers glower when reminded, and reluctantly separate themselves from their prized cap, underscoring what they think of a family excursion to the local church.
The armoury is also a good place to take off heavy rucksacks or cumbersome biking equipment before climbing up the narrow stairs to the upper floors.
I often invite people to leave their Viking walking sticks and helmets in the våbenhuset, but I have never had to request that arms be laid down. Until today.
A family with two young kids turned up and the youngest, a two-year-old, walked in with a complete policeman kit: gun, talkie-walkie and hat. His parents lovingly explained the purpose of the våbenhuset. He perfectly understood the case and handed me over his gun and talkie-walkie as he went in, confident that this was the right thing to do, a huge smile on his face.
When he came out, he walked up to collect his equipment and offered to help me count those leaving on the abacus I use to check on the number of people in the church.
A delightful moment of cooperation. This little boy has surely dissipated the more sinister handling of arms that have occurred in the space, drawing on qualities of playfulness and simplicity.