“Let the little children come to me …”


“… and do not hinder them,

for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”




Each Memorial Day my wife and I visit a local cemetery. Cemeteries are beautiful places. On Memorial Day we can expect to see families laying flowers upon graves or adult children sitting on the grass alongside a headstone, deep in thought. 

Newport is an old river town down the hill from where I live in Woodbury, MN. Newport Cemetery is on a steep hill facing west. Its residents have been there for decades, some since the Civil War. I imagine it was a peaceful place a hundred years ago. Now Highway 61 is at the foot of the hill, sending up rushing traffic sounds. On the other side from 61 is the Dantesque Koch refinery. But beyond that is the winding Mississippi and the western bluffs. I wonder if the Newport cemetery planners knew that the local Indians also buried their dead on the westerward-facing Mississippi bluffs. There’s something about the West and the setting sun. Even the Egyptiuans buried thier dead facing the west.

It was an overcast day, but saturated in vernal color. The cemetery has many lilacs planted about, and the grass and nearby woods offered rich springtime scent.



William points to where he rests.


The children’s graves are always the most touching. The parents of these young children made sure they have their toys.



The cemetery is on a steep hill.


Almost all the graves have mementos.



Did the mother die in childbirth? There are no dates or names. This unusual solitary stone has the child’s name above it.


Here are the rest of the photos on my Flickr account





The Quietest Place in Minneapolis

A Visit to Lakewood Cemetery



Minneapolis nobility left many statues and elaborate tombstones. Here is the section for the Loring family.

Today we drove across town to a tranquil park in south Minneapolis to check out the Lakeview Chapel. We were suprised to find such an expansive, park-like cemetery. Lakewood Cemetery is over a century old, yet it remains an ‘active’ cemetery with room  to serve the dead for decades to come. It’s a real gem — I have lived in the Cities for nearly thirty years and had no idea such a place was hidden in a bustling neighborhod. The park is shaded and carefully tended with not a sign of vandalism or neglect. I understand people hold weddings at Lakewood. As odd as that sounds, after walking under the trees, I can understand why.

We wandered on foot on a warm July afternoon, darting between the shadows of arching oaks. We covered a mere fraction of the total area. I  hope to go back again.


The Lakewood Chapel

We found out the Chapel is closed on Sundays. How strange!

Its external architecture is inspired by the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. We’ve been to that grand place, so we were looking forward to see how Lakewood compared. I can tell you it has the same shaped domes, but there are no minarettes. No doubt the staid Minneapolitans of 1900 would have nothing too ‘sultanate.’


There are a lot of statues about the place. Several, especially of the children, were decorated with flowers. One little girl had a rosary dangling at her side.


We wandered into areas dedicated to people who died in service. Pictured above are statues from the Civil War and fallen firemen areas. The section along the outside street perimenter has dead politicians (Hubert Humphrey, Rudy Perpich and Wellstone, among others)


Lakewood is all about symbolism. The place offers ‘symbolism tours’ which I really hope to take on my return visit. I could see many masonic symbols on headstones. There were dozens of stone urns, some draped entirely or partially covered, symbolizing old age and sorrow. The Lily-of-the-Valley, pictured above, means life and happiness. And an intact rose in full bloom indicates a person in their prime is buried there, perhaps a young parent.



Erastus died in 1882. He was eleven days old.

It’s always sad to see the graves of children. Lakewood has a ‘Babyland.’ I chose not to go there.



We wrapped up our afternoon by stepping into the silent and cool mausoleum. There is some beautiful stained glass and mosaic work inside, a surprise and delight for a modern building. Angels and saints provide the only color to the somber interior.


Want to see more of my pictures? Click here.






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?