Bestelle dein Haus …



Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live (Isiah 38:1)


Last Memorial Day I visited the original Salem Lutheran Church cemetary. It’s one of the oldest traces of European settlement here in Woodbury, Minnesota. Two waves of German settlers arrived in the area before statehood, sometime during the mid-1800s. One was Methodist and the other Lutheran.



The older tombstones are entirely in German. The marble headstones are crumbling, but the granite ones look new.

I have no family or friends at this cemetary, but I decided to visit after spotting it from the road last year. The original church is long gone and the tiny congregation has moved further into town. The cemetary is still tended by the handful of decendents who remain in the area. Many of the family farms have vanished, falling to the pressure of subruban development.

I’m certain the people in Woodbury have no idea there are gravesites up on the hill when they whiz by on the highway. I’m glad I stopped. There’s some silent stories here. The old stones imply rich lives, short lives, transitions and fading sorrow.



Sisters (?) Mathilda and Clara lived together their entire lives and died the same year. No, I don’t know that, but that’s what I like to assume. Someone still remembers them.


People either lived to very old age or they died in their first few years. I saw many of these little lamb tombstones. Very sad.


Here are an entire row of children, all the same family, all born within a year of each other. None lived more than two years.



Clarence is waiting for Laura.

I have no idea where my grandparents are buried. I’m not sure how to find their graves. I thought of them that day. I think of them a lot. Perhaps there’s someone like me walking over their resting places, casting eyes on their tombstones. If you know where your grandparents are buried, why not visit them — and let them visit with you for a few minutes?


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