Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In praise of church organists and a friendship rekindled November 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:40 AM

Keys on the 114-year-old organ at Immanuel Lutheran Church, rural Courtland, Minnesota.

Pipes on the old Immanuel organ.

“SINCE I WAS a tiny girl attending mass with my old dad, crowded into a pew with my many siblings, I have watched the church organist with fascination and the utmost respect. How do they do what they do?”

Yeah, how?

And how do two bloggers, who attended high school together, write on the same topic on the exact same day? That would be me and blogger Beth Johanneck of Richfield.

Last Wednesday, Beth wrote a post, “In Praise of Church Organists,” on her Minnesota Country Mouse blog. That’s her lead in the first paragraph.

I posted “Singing praises at a Faribault hymn fest” on the same day.

Now, what are the chances that, from all the topics we could choose, we would both write about organists on November 18?

Beth was freaked. I wasn’t so much freaked as awed.

Here’s the deal, and I think Beth would agree. Although we were Wabasso High School class of 1974 classmates and shared a locker, we never were close. Friends, yes. Just not friends as in a person you hung around with either during school or after classes.

Following graduation, Beth and I never saw each other except at the occasional class reunion.

But then, several years ago, we reconnected when I wrote a Minnesota Moments magazine article about her grandfather, Arnold Kramer, a folk artist pegged as “Minnesota’s Grandpa Moses.” See http://arnoldkramer.com.

This year I wrote a feature for Midwest Mix Magazine about Beth and her Country Mouse blog. Her blog includes “photos and articles about local sites, attractions, businesses, people, history and all things Minnesota.” Here’s the link to Beth’s blog: http://countrymouse.blogharbor.com/

Beth and I have reconnected in a way that only two people who share a passion can connect. Our shared passions lie in writing and photography and sharing those loves with others through our blogs. Beth has even termed us “folk bloggers.”

So I guess it should come as no surprise that sometimes we choose to write on the same subjects, like organists. I must add, though, that Beth grew up Catholic and I grew up Lutheran.

Despite our lack of closeness as teenagers, I’ve grown to appreciate Beth for her honesty; her quirky sense of humor; her ability to truly “see” the world around her (and often from a unique perspective); her genuine interest in history, art and more; her creative gifts; her care for others; her appreciation of the simple things in life; and so much more. All of these qualities shine in writing that is distinct, humorous, introspective and down-to-earth. Read for yourself.

I only regret that it took three decades for us to rekindle a friendship much deeper than the surface friendship of our teenage years.

Stops on Immanuel's organ.

This majestic vintage pipe organ graces the balcony of Immanuel Lutheran, Courtland, the church home of my maternal ancestors.

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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