Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thoughts from Minnesota June 1, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 4:26 PM
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These porous stacked rocks represent the heaviness layered upon my heart. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


A HEAVINESS RESTS upon my heart.

I feel unsettled, overwhelmed, sad, heartbroken. As if pain and angst and worry have collectively landed. Upon the people in this place I call home. Minnesota.

Certainly, I am physically removed from the epicenter of unrest in the Twin Cities metro. But many friends and loved ones live there. And the reason for the protests—the death of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of police—touches me in a profoundly human way. The senselessness of his death… I understand the outrage, the anger, the desire for justice and change. I don’t understand the looting, the rioting, the destruction, the burning of businesses and government buildings, the threats…


The Faribault Police Department building photographed Saturday morning.


My community of Faribault has not gone untouched. Protesters gathered outside the police station Friday evening. Peaceful by media accounts, for which I am thankful. Still, it’s unsettling to see concrete and other barriers and a police vehicle protecting the local law enforcement headquarters.

Sunday evening Faribault joined other Minnesota communities in implementing a curfew beginning at 8 pm and continuing until 6 am Monday. The typically busy street past my house grew eerily quiet by 8:30 pm. I awoke several times during the night to silence.

Thankfully this past weekend I had the distraction of grandchildren to focus my attention, to love on, to hold close. I blew bubbles, chalked hearts on the sidewalk, read books, cuddled, played hide-and-seek. And when my eldest daughter, my son-in-law and those two precious grandchildren left at 5:30 pm Sunday with plenty of time to reach home in the north metro before curfew, Randy and I stood in the driveway waving the long Minnesota goodbye.


A protected police department, up close, on Saturday morning.


Minutes later, the daughter texted, “Better stay home tonight” with a screen shot about curfews in Faribault, Northfield and Dakota County.

Twenty minutes later, she texted, “They closed the freeways at 5 tonight. So we have to go a longer way.” Then the worry kicked in as I prayed for my loved ones to get safely home. We had no idea the interstate closings were moved ahead three hours.

But they found their usual route open and arrived home without delay. And this mother and grandma breathed again, although a heaviness still presses upon my heart.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


23 Responses to “Thoughts from Minnesota”

  1. Kathleen Ahern Says:

    I am grateful and relieved to know they made it home safe and sound, Audrey.

    Today, I was watching updates on the internet when a gentleman said something that deeply moved me and is so heart-wrenchingly relevant, I will share/paraphrase here. He said:

    Let us all take a breath. Let us all take a breath. Everyone in the country needs to take a breath for peace. Take a breath … because Mr. Floyd could not.

    Tears fill my eyes again, this time, just typing these moving words.

    So profoundly tragic. So profoundly inspiring and needed.

    Let us all take a breath, indeed.

    From Idaho, Audrey – I’m sending much love to you and all.

  2. JanBeek Says:

    I did not press “like” because I “like” this situation. No, I don’t like it one bit. But, I like that you are willing to share your heaviness with those of us who also find our hearts aching for this land of the free that is not free at all.I’m glad your family arrived home safely and you were able to spend precious time with them just loving on one another. Yes, as Kathleen said, “Let’s all take a breath” … make it collective breath for peace. And let’s turn to God for divine intervention. Heaven knows we all need it! Thank you, Audrey, for sharing.

  3. Norma Says:

    In reading the words of your friend Kathleen, I too have tears in my eyes. Such a tragedy. I understand the protests, but I don’t understand the violence and looting. I worry about certain members of my family, and pray. I am so happy to learn of Marc and Amber arriving home safely. I pray that the protests don’t spill over into their area. There has been three nights of protesting here in Bakersfield, mostly non- violent, but a few resulting in unlawful acts. I’m praying for you all and your beautiful state. Take care

  4. Walter Says:

    I sincerely hope that peace will return to your country.
    You and your family are in my prayers.

  5. Almost Iowa Says:

    My daughter lives in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood near the epicenter of the violence. She is not getting much sleep.

    On the bright side, this is bringing her community together. She is getting to know neighbors that she only exchanged smiles with in passing. Now they are banding together as a community for safety and clean up.

    • Greg, I appreciate you mentioning the aspect of this bringing communities together. That is the good coming from this. I’m sorry your daughter lives near the epicenter and understand why she isn’t getting much sleep. I spoke with my uncle last evening who lives further away. His adult children, however, are nearer and have witnessed some unsettling things.

  6. I was taught to love from the heart, educate my mind, be strong, and be part of a community in sharing my love, light and beauty. My heart goes out to every city experiencing the good, the bad and the outright ugly with rioting and looting. I know I do not fully understand, however; I am open to understanding and educating myself. I find it hard to wrap my mind around them versus us, racism and hatred, etc. I was raised to be a human being that is decent and kind and compassionate. Now is the time we all need to take to breathe, to heal and my hope is to build one another up and not continue to break each other down. Our actions and words speak loudly, have repercussions and consequences and need to make that determination for the greater good or to do harm, especially in a time with video and social media. I appreciate you sharing this difficult topic and opening it up for discussion. Thank You and Glad your family made it home safe (how scary). Be Safe and Take Care. ((((((((lovehugshealingvibes)))))


  7. valeriebollinger Says:

    I like the quote in a comment above about taking a breath because Mr. Floyd couldn’t.
    This is such a tragic situation.
    I’m so happy you had a wonderful time with the kids and grandkids…a great distraction.

  8. I have no words. Today I drove to Pretty Place to sit and meditate and spend some time with God. On the way up the mountain I saw a sheet hanging off a garage with the words “Is Our Grandson Next?” I am sure there are many who are echoing the same sentiments. I am praying and trying to educate myself and understand more. But I have no clue. So glad your family is safe. Stay safe and well, my friend.

    • That’s heartbreaking: “Is our grandson next?”

      Today the Governor of Minnesota announced that the Minnesota Department of Human Rights is launching a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.

      Thankfully, things seemed to have settled down in Minnesota with peaceful protests.

      • Almost Iowa Says:

        Now that some time as passed, let’s get down to the nitty gritty, the Mayor and City Council of Minneapolis control the police department budget, recruitment, selection, training, discipline, hiring and firing.

        This is their problem, they own it and they are running away from it as fast as they can and looking to the Governor to provide political cover.

        One party, the Democrats have run that city for 30 years. I say this not to blast the Democrats but to illustrate that there is no excuse for the lack of action.

        Some say it is the police union that stands in the way of reform, there is some truth to that, if so break the union.

        If the answer to that, is “we can’t do that, we are Democrats”, well then maybe we need a few Republicans who can do that.

        But more of a problem is the attitude that gives preference to military experience. Don’t get me wrong, I respect those who have served and they should be rewarded, but busting down doors in Falujah is not the same skill set as is required in Minneapolis.

        I have lost all faith in Governor Walz’s ability to handle crisis. Everyone has their skill set. Everyone has things that they are really good at. Walz does a great job of bringing bureaucrats together to do bureaucratic things.

        That is not a slam, it is actual praise. That is how things get done in government – but not during a crisis.

        For example: Minnesota and Wisconsin have just about the same number of people, yet Wisconsin lost 595 lives to Covid while Minnesota lost 1,050. The thing is, 848 were lost in Minnesota nursing homes and long term care facilities because Walz and the Department of Health were blinded by a poorly written epidemiological model and as result sent covid patients into these facilities while the actual data was screaming not to.

        Just the other day, MNDOT, the National Guard and the State Patrol failed to close freeway ramps on I35 before inviting protesters to demonstrate there. As a result, a hapless recent immigrant truck driver drove down an open unmarked ramp and panicked when he encountered the protest. When a woman fell off her bike in front of him, he saved her life by slamming on his brakes and was dragged out of his truck and beaten. Credit goes to the demonstrators who save his life.

        Walz and the Majority leader of the House, Ryan Winkler then spread the rumor that he was a “white nationalist”.

        I could go on but I won’t.

  9. I am truly sickened by all of it…. all of it !!! I also had Brice and family with the 2 grands traveling back to the Twin Cities on Sunday early evening. They were very adamant about leaving in plenty of time to get back before curfew! They made it too. Such crazy scary times we are living in…..

  10. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    The rock wall of pain in my heart is surprising visceral. I’ve had to stop looking at the media reports, which were making me physically sick. I just realised I am fasting and praying – necessary, but unplanned. I have been thinking much about JFK’s quote: Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.

    Love trumps hatred. respect trumps contempt.

  11. That is so frightening, Audrey. The world in general seems so unsettled. None of us have the answer. There is no one simple answer. But your’re right, we have to start somewhere. There is a heaviness, a sadness over so many right now. It’s very hard not to let it effect you. Thank heaven your family is safe. Bless you and stay safe My Friend.

    • All is good here, Penny. I watched George Floyd’s memorial service in Minneapolis this afternoon on TV. It was powerful. For now, and for the past several days, any protests have been peaceful and respectful.

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