Friends and family sometimes call me "Nancy, the Cruise Director"
because I am often the one who suggests places to go and things to do. This past weekend was no exception.
Along with entertaining one evening and spending a lazy and relaxing afternoon with friends at their home, I selected two destinations from my summer list: Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis and a St Croix River cruise. Not only were both interesting and enjoyable, but both felt relevant to the 4th of July holiday.
Often called a "haven in the heart of Minneapolis," Lakewood sits above one of Minneapolis's main lakes, where crowds of people were celebrating the 4th of July in traditional ways--boating, swimming, walking and biking around the lake. The bustling ended once we crossed the cemetery's threshold, however. Established in 1871 when the city had only 13,000 residents, Lakewood is now a guidebook of local history.
First, we stopped at my mother's gravesite. While this is not where I go to remember or be with her, I did bring pink roses, her favorite. I told her I miss her and love her and think about her every day.
Then, using a brochure for a self-guided tour, we drove the cemetery's curvy roads, locating monuments for George Beckett who helped establish what became the University of Minnesota Medical School and was an early Minneapolis mayor; Charles Loring who developed the extensive Minneapolis park system; Maggie Menzel who at nineteen was the first person buried at Lakewood; Dr Robert S. Brown, the first black physician to practice in Minneapolis; Clara Hampson Ueland, a champion of the women's suffrage movement and founder of the Minnesota League of Women voters; and many more.
Also buried at Lakewood are two of my heroes: Paul Wellstone and Hubert H. Humphrey. Wellstone, who died in a plane crash in northern Minnesota in 2002 was a U.S. Senator devoted to liberal causes. Humphrey was mayor of Minneapolis, U. S. Senator and Vice President of the United States. I remember standing on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol on a cold January night with thousands of other mourners, waiting to view his coffin.
Humphrey was called "the happy warrior." Carved on his monument is the following:
I have engaged my life; its disappointments
outweighed by the pleasures. I have loved my
country in a way that some people consider
sentimental and out of style, and I remain an
optimist, with joy, without apology, about this
country and about the American experiment in
Both of these men were giants in the life of our country, and the phrase "rolling over in their graves" seems to fit when I wonder how they might react to the current political situation. But I also know both men were fighters and believers. Standing by their monuments lifted my heart just a bit, as did the doe and her two fawns perfectly at home in the quiet of the Lakewood grounds.
St Croix River
The St Croix or "holy cross" is a tributary of the Mississippi River, and the lower end of the river forms the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. We enjoyed an 80 minute paddleboat cruise passing by many kayakers, canoers, hikers, swimmers, picnickers.
The captain of the "Princess" told us about a famous log jam and about Scandinavian immigrants who disembarked here to begin a new life and about the cliff formations. He didn't say much about the first people who lived there, but I imagined them standing on top of the cliffs or walking through the thick forests.
I relaxed in the warmth and the gentle breeze and the rhythm of the calm water. I gave thanks for God's creation and for the privilege of enjoying it. I prayed we would be mindful of all we have and not take it for granted. This is "greatness," I thought, and not some false notion of what America needs to be great again.
Both locations are filled with stories. Gifts and losses. Dreams fulfilled and not.
Both are sacred.
Have you discovered any sacred places recently. I would love to know.