Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

8 minutes and 46 seconds June 5, 2020

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Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


TIME. For two hours Thursday afternoon, I watched the memorial service for George Floyd in Minneapolis broadcast on TV. Singing. Praying. Sharing of memories. Laughing. Crying. Calls for justice. And in the end, at the end, it was the 8 minutes and 46 seconds that mourners stood in silence which felt the most intensely and emotionally powerful. The length of time a former Minneapolis police officer, now charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, was shown in a video kneeling on Floyd’s neck. It seemed an interminably long time.


Garden art given to me by my mom many years ago. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


TIME. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who spoke at the service, quoted Ecclesiastes 3, which references time. “Time is out for empty words and empty promises,” the reverend said, as he called for lasting change. For equality. For justice. The time is now.


Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


TIME. Hope is rising. Not as a wish, but as an action, as a movement toward lasting change.




Time choices October 11, 2015

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My WalMart watch photographs just like a Rolex, doesn't it? I did not edit this image, just in case you're wondering.

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo

TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON and a time to every purpose under heaven…

Ever since the pastor read Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 13 as a scripture reading last week at my church, I’ve pondered the words in verse 7: …a time to be silent and a time to speak.

How do you know? How do you know when to remain silent or when to speak?

I understand a time to weep and a time to laugh and a time to mourn and a time to dance. Those are easy. But how do you decide whether to open your mouth or zip your lips?

Taking that a bit further, how do you decide when to act or when to allow things to unfold as they may?

I believe that we are sometimes called to act and/or to speak. But how do we determine when we should talk or take action? President Obama, for example, recently stated in the aftermath of the deadly shootings in Oregon that “our thoughts and prayers are not enough.” I believe firmly in the power of prayer and I pray daily. Yet, I agree with the President. (I’m not taking a stand on gun control here, just the need to “do something.”)

As parents, especially, we struggle with how much we should say, if anything. It is easy when the kids are little. We are, mostly, able to curb negative behavior, keep our children from danger, and guide them by our examples, discipline, love and care.

Then our children grow into adulthood and they are in charge of their lives. We have given them, as my friend Kathleen says, “roots and wings, roots and wings.” How, then, do you determine when to speak or to remain silent? If your adult son or daughter was trapped inside a burning building, you wouldn’t just stand there and do nothing simply because they are adults, would you? I’m oversimplifying. But you get my point.

Have you witnessed a situation involving strangers that requires an instant decision? Speak up or remain a silent bystander. Recently, while attending a community event, I watched an angry young mother rage at her daughter. Yanking and yelling. I felt my blood pressure rise as the preschooler cowered in her mother’s presence and slunk into a corner behind a door. If the mother would have pushed an inch further, I would have intervened. I decided not to inflame the situation and was eventually able to comfort the young girl with soft words of kindness. Later I witnessed the mom once again yelling at her passel of children. And I wondered if she treats her children like this in public, how does she treat them at home? And why was she seemingly so overwhelmed? What was she dealing with in her life?

I don’t mean to judge. But you see the dilemma. Determining whether to speak or to remain silent is not always black-and-white clear.


© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Reflections on graduation & time passages June 11, 2015

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ON THE AFTERNOON MY HUSBAND and I dined at Teluwut in Lake Mills, Iowa, family and friends were filtering into Jayde Thompson’s graduation reception across the street at the Senior Citizen Center.


Lake Mills Iowa grad reception signs


The juxtaposition of that reception venue was not lost on me. Young and old. Beginnings and endings.

Not that senior citizen is an end. But it’s nearer ending than beginning. And although those of us who qualify for senior citizen status may sometimes feel young at heart, we no longer fit the physical definition of young.

All too many days now I wonder how the years vanished. I was once a Jayde Thompson, albeit not a cheerleader, embarking on life, eyes focused on the future. Today it’s not as much about the future as about yesterday. Or perhaps it’s that I think more now about my children’s futures.

May and June mark periods of transition for many families. Passage of time. Ceremony and applause and tears. Moving forward and standing still. Time gone. Youth beginning that all too quick movement of days, weeks, months and years that propel into the future, to wondering where yesterday went.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Time passages September 26, 2014

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I recently started collecting alarm clocks and now have four, three Westclox and one General Electric.

I recently started collecting alarm clocks and now have four, three Westclox and one General Electric.

NEVER HAVE I BEEN MORE COGNIZANT of the passage of time than during this past year.

I can’t pinpoint a precise reason for this deep sense of time fleeting. Rather, a combination of life events has spawned this feeling.

A year ago, my eldest married. Although she graduated and left home 10 years ago and her sister two years later, only two years have passed since my youngest started college. He’s in his third year now, his second in Boston. He spent the summer there, too, working. I haven’t seen him in three months, won’t see him for another three.

I miss him and the girls—their closeness, the hugs, the conversation, the everything (almost) that comes with parenting children you love beyond words. Too many days I wish only to turn back the moments.

I wish again to be that young mom, with issues no bigger than the occasional two-year-old’s tantrum or the snarky teen or a kid I can’t rouse from bed or the picky eater. But when you’re handling such challenges, they seem ominous and big and looming. Ridiculous.

If only we knew.

Granted, I am, as the old adage says, “older and wiser.” But such wisdom comes via life experiences that color hair gray. Or maybe not solely. Time does that, too.

I am now the daughter with a mother in a nursing home, my father in his grave for nearly a dozen years. A friend noted the other day that he never saw his parents grow old to the age of needing his care. And I wondered if that was good or bad and then I didn’t want to think about it anymore.

I am now so close to age sixty that I feel my fingers reflexively curving around the numbers.

Which brings me to today, my birthday.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling