Mirja-Anneli's Letter

October 19,2005

I was reading the different interpretations on the meaning of "Sisu". I am half Finnish and half Canadian. My mother and her family were born in Vaasa, Finland. My mom moved to Canada with her family when she was 15. As a child I grew up (with my fathers blessing) amongst the Finnish traditions. I learned how to bake pulla, make filia, and piparkakku during the Christmas season. I was learning the language and how to read and write.

My grandmother, my mother & I shared a very close bond. One day I heard my grandmother angrily mention the word 'Sisu' to my mother during a time of difficulty. I often stayed over night, and one day I asked her what 'Sisu" meant....the word itself resonated very deeply within me despite my ignorance.

This is what she told me:

"Sisu" is an internal strength...quiet and sometimes dangerous ...drawn upon during times of great difficulty. It is one's own personal power of "do or die". It is a gift she told me. One not to be taken lightly.....and I believed her, because she was so serious.

She told me that Finland was built upon Granite rock...and like Granite so our people are...tough and unbreakable. When the chips are down with no where to turn.....one turns into "Sisu".

It is more than some mere emotion she told me...it is what allows her people to remain who they are...and be "Finns."

I experienced my own inner Sisu when I was giving birth to my daughter. After 3 days, one of us was going to lose. Exhausted, my mother whispered in my ear "Now use your Sisu and don't you dare give up!"

I ended up pushing my child out into the world without the guidance of any contraction. When the doctor found out he was stunned. My child was not supposed to live under the circumstances. I am happy to report that the both of us are doing very well.

I may be only half Finnish, but by upbringing and by heart I personally know what Sisu means. Sisu is a way of life and for the Finn's...via blood relations. Mysterious? Perhaps. But it is innate. If you identify with this....you have discovered a gift.  For some, you either have it or not....but it is the inner language of the Guardians.

We (the Finns) know that we are blessed.... we survived and will continue to do so in the future...