Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

I know that my Redeemer lives April 16, 2017

WE FILED INTO THE BALCONY of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Sunday School children clunking up the stairs in our shiny patent leather shoes. I felt a tinge of nervous energy fueled by too much chocolate taken from Easter baskets and eaten for breakfast.

 

My vintage 1960s purse, reclaimed years ago from my mom’s toy box.

 

I was dressed in my Easter finery—lacy anklets tucked into shiny shoes, lime green skirt skimming my knees below a sleeveless floral shirt accented by a matching lime green jacket. I carried a lime green purse. I looked as fashionable as a skinny Minnesota farm girl can in a homemade ensemble topped by an Easter hat with ribbons tailing down the back.

 

 

If my childhood Easter memories were nothing more than those of fashion and of candy, I would feel shallow and lacking in my faith. But I am thankful to have been raised in a home by loving Christian parents who got me to church every Sunday to learn of, praise and worship God. After the service, I clunked down the narrow basement stairs to Sunday School. And there I learned the song that, each Easter, I still sing from memory:

I know that my Redeemer lives! What comfort this sweet sentence gives! He lives, he lives, who once was dead; He lives my everliving head!

 

Art of the risen Lord photographed inside St. Mary’s Catholic Church, New Trier, Minnesota.

 

In the balcony of that rural Minnesota church, I sang with enthusiasm and joy of my Redeemer. Eight verses. The voices of farm girls and boys singing with such gusto. Every Easter. The words are still imprinted upon my memory more than 50 years later: I know that my Redeemer lives!

And I still sing them with joy.

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MY DEAREST READERS, may you be blessed with a joyous Easter.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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With joy & thankfulness on Easter March 27, 2016

This stained glass window of the women at Jesus' empty tomb rises above the altar at Holden Lutheran Church, rural Kenyon, Minnesota.

This stained glass window of the women at Jesus’ empty tomb rises above the altar at Holden Lutheran Church, rural Kenyon, Minnesota.

Why do you look for the living among the dead?

This shows a snippet of the center stained glass window in a trio above the altar at Trinity Lutheran Church, Wanamingo, Minnesota.

This depiction of the risen Lord centers three stained glass windows above the altar at Trinity Lutheran Church, Wanamingo, Minnesota.

He is not here; he has risen!

© Photos copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Scripture text from the New International Version of the Holy Bible, Luke 24:5 & 6

 

He is risen April 5, 2015

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"I am the resurrection and the life." A stained glass window in the Trinity Lutheran Church sanctuary, Faribault, Minnesota.

“I am the resurrection and the life.” A stained glass window in the Trinity Lutheran Church sanctuary, Faribault, Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

You are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.– Mark 16: 6

Wishing you, my dear readers, a most joyous and blessed Easter!

Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Oh, the joy of dyeing Easter eggs with an octogenarian April 22, 2014

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SOMETIMES IT IS the unexpected which brings joy.

I did not expect my nearly 82-year-old mother to effuse such enthusiasm over dyeing eggs on the Saturday before Easter.

But she did when I told her days in advance of a weekend visit that I would bring hard-boiled eggs to color in addition to a cooler full of food for our meals.

“I haven’t dyed eggs in years,” she responded, giddy like a kid with anticipation.

Her enthusiasm was precisely what I needed as I had been feeling a bit melancholy about my first Easter in 28 years without any of my and my husband’s three “kids” around. We could easily have skipped the egg dyeing.

But as I rummaged through my mom’s kitchen cupboards looking for containers in which to dye the eggs, I was glad I’d brought those eggs.

Like an eager child, Mom was already struggling to open the tightly-glued package of Easter egg dyes while I counted out six empty “I can’t believe it’s not butter” containers for the dye tablets.

My husband and mom dye eggs at her kitchen table Saturday evening.

My husband and mom dye eggs at her kitchen table Saturday evening.

Eventually we settled at her cluttered kitchen table, bowls of dye before us, spoons and tongs at the ready. Not to worry about spilling on the table, she assured us. So we didn’t. But we didn’t. Spill that is.

Stirring and dipping and dyeing and trading colors.

Stirring and dipping and dyeing and trading colors.

Rather we laughed and talked and dipped eggs in dye and stirred and waited and mused that the purple was more pink than purple, the red dull, the blue especially eye-pleasing.

Ten of the eleven eggs dyed.

Ten of the eleven eggs dyed.

And in the process I realized that long-standing childhood holiday traditions matter. Even to an 82-year-old.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Believe April 20, 2014

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"The Risen Lord," painted in by my artist friend, Rhody Yule of Faribault, who dies in June 2011 at the age of 92.

“The Risen Lord,” painted in 1951 by my artist friend, Rhody Yule of Faribault, who died in June 2011 at the age of 92.

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene… She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.—  Mark 16: 9-11

 

I know that my Redeemer lives March 31, 2013

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A cross in Trebon Cemetery, 10 miles northwest of Faribault in Shieldsville Township.

A cross in Trebon Cemetery, 10 miles northwest of Faribault in Shieldsville Township.

I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever-living head.

He lives triumphant from the grave;
He lives eternally to save:
He lives all-glorious in the sky;
He lives exalted there on high.

This, one of my favorite hymns, I sang with the congregation of Trinity Lutheran Church in Faribault this Easter Sunday morning.

The words are imprinted upon my memory from childhood Easters, of singing from the balcony of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Vesta with my Sunday School classmates.

I know that my Redeemer lives. I knew that then. I still know that now. He is risen. He is risen, indeed.

Wishing you a most blessed Easter in our risen Lord.

Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The squirrels what? March 30, 2013

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MY SECOND DAUGHTER phoned the other day, just to talk. The conversation turned to Easter, which she will celebrate alone or in a Wisconsin hospital. She’s a Spanish medical interpreter and will be on call on Easter.

“Are you sending me a chocolate bunny?” she asked.

I guess I am now, I thought, then the next day purchased and mailed a chocolate bunny.

That got me thinking about Easter traditions, like the chocolate bunnies we give our kids. And dying eggs. And Easter morning church services. And Easter egg hunts, once a part of extended family Easter dinners, now in the past as we don’t all gather anymore.

Traveling through Madison Lake last weekend, I noticed this sign for an Easter egg hunt.

Traveling through Madison Lake last weekend, I noticed this sign for an Easter egg hunt.

But many communities still have community Easter egg hunts, like the one held at the Rice County Fairgrounds in Faribault last weekend and the one this morning on the campus of Shattuck-St. Mary’s School.

I remember, as a child, participating once in an Easter egg hunt at the Redwood Falls High School football field several blocks from by grandpa’s house. We searched for hard-boiled dyed eggs, not flimsy plastic orbs manufactured in China. The finders of the few golden eggs each received a dollar bill. The rest of us got, well, boiled eggs. And we were happy.

I heard on the radio yesterday that the city of Richfield had a problem with theft at this year’s egg hunt. Seems the squirrels nabbed some of the eggs.

That does not surprise me. I recall watching a squirrel steal my niece’s pink plastic egg during an Easter egg hunt many years ago. She was practically in tears. Over an egg.

Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling