On Saturday, Jon had to go deliver bulletins at the churches and I decided to walk around the church grounds at the first one. Like most country churches in southern Minnesota, the graveyard surrounds the church and this one literally has people on all three sides. It was interesting to walk around and see the gravestones and names of the people. Many had epitaphs and I wish I’d brought my Norwegian-English dictionary so I could have read them. Some people were born in Norway in 1830 while others have markers that just say “Baby ______” and the year the baby died. It was humbling to see those markers because they represented something in the life of a family that most people probably don’t talk about.
Walking through the graveyard made me realize how strange I am as a West Coaster. Everyone seems to be from somewhere else and people really don’t have ties to the land in as much of a sense as they do here. Some people have farmed the same land for 7 generations and most people in the churches have an ancestor that settled here from Norway 150 years ago. Times like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are huge around here because everyone lives within a few miles of their parents, grandparents, or other extended family. Church attendance is more constant because it’s a time to see all your family members and there’s a pride in the churches that I haven’t found in the West which is probably tied to that.