Archives for the month of: March, 2013

AlmaLindsborg, Kansas:  March 28, 1882, the Bethany Oratorio Society performs Handel’s “Messiah” for the first time.  This Sunday, March 24th, 2013, marks the beginning of the 132nd Messiah Festival of the Arts, including the performance this Sunday–Palm Sunday–of “Messiah” in Presser Hall Auditorium.

The young and gifted musician, Alma Lind Swensson, who was also the wife of Carl Aaron Swensson, pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, taught the first choir note by note, phrase by phrase, not in their language–Swedish–but in English.

The gorgeous singing continues today–the story of the miracle of Easter.  Thanks be to God!  Hallelujah!

(more of the story of Alma Christina Lind Swensson may be found in my book, Grace, Faith and the Power of Singing, published by Lutheran University Press.  Their website:

“God created March in Minnesota so that those of us who don’t drink would know what a hangover is like.”   Garrison Keillor.

Here we are more than half-way through March, and we still have over two feet of snow in our yard, and the windchill this morning is  -8.  March has been a weather month we’d just as soon forget, but we’ll be talking about the snow, sleet, frizzle, snow, snow, drizzle, snow for years.  It seems that we have returned to the winters of my childhood.  Not long ago my brothers and I were remembering the Saint Patrick’s Day Blizzard of ’65.  The three of us looked at each other suddenly, as if we were becoming our grandfather Martin, who remembered almost everything from the day he was born at Norseland in 1882.  Grandpa would often put perspective on our young lives by telling us vignettes of history in his deep voice with Norwegian accent, “Well, you know, in the old days we used to have to dig out of the snow drifts with horses.”  Or, he would say, “You know, in the old days, before Marney, Estelle, and Pearl walked to school, we used to tie a rope around their waist so they wouldn’t get lost if the blizzard came up before they got to school.” Or, “We’d have to use dynamite to plant potatoes in the garden on Good Friday.”  Name any subject, any season of the year, and he would give a short insight into the “old days.”  We loved hearing about winter.

And that Saint Patrick’s Day Blizzard of ’65 is worth remembering.  Snow started falling heavily on Sunday, March 17th, and fell all day Monday.  School was cancelled three days in a row that week.  And then another early spring blizzard on the 22nd when school was cancelled another three days.  My brothers and I were 15, 11, and 9 at the time. We had so much fun playing games, reading, resting, and realizing that we were pretty lucky to live in such a cozy farm house with people who loved us and cared about us.  The whole world stopped for a few days, and there wasn’t much else we could do.

It has been a returned real winter this year.   There were some January mornings this year when we’d look at the forecast on our smartphone weather apps and see that the temperature should warm up to 12 below.  Ah yes, like in the old days.  There are beautiful memories to carry us through.  We could be done with winter soon, though.  We hope.