Archives for the month of: November, 2012

At home this second day of Thanksgiving. Tomorrow–back to the Minnesota History Center to help with a members-breakfast celebrating the opening of our new exhibit, Then, Now, WOW!  More on that another time.

Thanksgiving Day is one of those times that connects us so deeply to our life experience, and to the present moment as one prepares the traditional feast.

I was up at 5:45 a.m. On our kitchen island, I light a candle in memory of my foremothers–Gulina, Johanna, Lena, Nickolina, Meta Catherina, Maria, Augusta, Eva, Hattie, and my mother Eleanor–and in honor of my Aunt Pearlie, and my mother’s cousin Marian Nelson Glew who took me under her wing while I was in college.  Marian coached me on the finer points of making bread, rolling sugar cookies, making pie.

There are many women for whom I give thanks early on Thanksgiving morning, among them Laura Lind Webster.  When I was newly married to the pastor of our church, Laura–whom I had known all my life–gave me a recipe with the simple words:  You might like to have this.  It was her recipe for Never Fail Pie Crust.  It never fails, she said.  It is, perhaps, one of the most valuable recipe in my collection–and in all the 38 years that I’ve needed to make pie–for lawn socials, picnics, Memorial Day dinners, pie and coffee events, dessert, and for Thanksgiving, this recipe never fails.  Here it is–it makes approximately four crusts.

Never Fail Pie Crust

3 cups flour, 1 1/4 cups shortening, 1 tsp salt:  cut shortening into flour and salt.

In a separate small bowl, combine 1 well beaten egg, 5 tbsp cold water, 1 tbsp vinegar.  Pour into flour mixture all at once.  Blend the mixture with a spoon just until flour is all moistened.  This is an easy crust to handle and can be re-rolled without toughening.  It also keeps in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

You’ll give thanks for Laura Lind Webster, too.

This is a favorite–the words speak to me deeply.

The Spiral Procession by Susan Palo Cherwein

They lived.

Their lives vibrate in our bones.

Their memories reside in our cells.

They lived.

Their footsteps ring beneath our feet.

Their voices are alive in the walls.

Their light lights our way.

We are not alone.

They lived.

The procession

spirals and winds before us

They, the vanguard

Their songs on our lips

their poems in our hearts

their wisdom, our guide

their failings our warning

we do not travel alone

the procession winds

and spirals

around us



into God.

They, the forerunners



into God —

the procession


Remembrance lights, Stadtkirche, Wittenberg November 6, 2011

All Saints Day, one of the great holy days in Scandinavia, is observed in most  Lutheran churches in our country on the first Sunday in November–this year November 4th.  I love this holy day because of the deep connection it brings to all the people who have walked their journey ahead of mine, and for the journey that we share together.

In Norway and Sweden, the first day of November is a public holiday, one of dignity and reflection. Late in the afternoon, families visit the cemetery of their family graves, and on each grave they place a lit candle in a jar–one that will last 24 hours, perhaps a small spray of autumn flowers.  In the evening the families return to see the entire cemetery aglow with lights.  Just imagine the sacred scene.

My own tradition on this day is to visit the graves of my family at Norseland.  With the refrains of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ hymn For All the Saints ringing through my ears, I walk through the small rural cemeteries where members of my family rest from their labors–the oldest of them born in Norway in 1825.  And I visit the graves of the people whose lives still influence mine–my beloved parents and grandparents, Sunday School teachers, pastors, 4-H leaders, family friends and neighbors.  I bring nothing but my thanks.

“This is the time to give thanks and wave to one’s balcony people”, the preacher Carlyle Marney once said of All Saints Day.  Balcony people, he said, are those individuals who cheer us on and who have changed our lives. Our lives would be forever different without those people who helped us along the way.