Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
While some may feel "trapped" here, a number of us choose to live in small-town Minnesota.
There are a great many benefits to living in a close-knit, small community. But those benefits come at a price. When tragedy strikes within our community, it impacts many. Like skipping a rock in a small pool, the ripples overlap and quickly fill the pool. Last week's accident was a sad and sudden reminder of the cost of small-community life. Millard and Shirlee Nelson likely were running an errand in St. Cloud - just as we all do without thinking twice. A collision with a semi-truck changed everything.
There were many who have been touched by Millard or Shirlee, their children and grandchildren, and in-laws. Their lives directly or indirectly were connected with ours. Years ago, someone once close to me believed that relationships with coworkers and neighbors were to be avoided. "Friends cost money," he always said. "If you share in their happiness, then you have to share in their sorrow." To him, that was a bad thing. Sadly, he had no friends, indeed has no friends. I could say that he enjoys a very solitary life, but I doubt he enjoys anything about it. We choose to live closely together, to fully live and enjoy whatever time we have. We entwine ourselves with each other's families, and derive strength from each other. We share joy at weddings and birthdays, and we are there for each other at times of loss. For much of my childhood I lived in Minneapolis. There, our family was a tiny pebble in an ocean. My school friends were different from church friends who were different from family. Those circles never crossed. We knew neighbors, but not enough to attend their weddings or funerals. Many school friends lived beyond our neighborhood, so I rarely knew anything of their families. Out here in small-town Minnesota, relationships overlap. You see school friends in church, church friends at work, and work friends at family parties. Relatives are everywhere. If you're not directly related to someone in the community, then someone else in the room is. And we're all neighbors, really, even if we live further than a stone's throw from the next house - or maybe especially when we do. So, if you have felt sadness, sorrow or pain lately - and Lord knows there are plenty of reasons all around us - rejoice in it. This means that you're alive, and you're in a community that is alive, caring and feeling. * * * * * On a completely different note, I saw something this weekend that really frightened me. Pravda, a major and government-controlled newspaper in Russia, ran an article (not an editorial) entitled "The world should unite against the USA." The wording was so incendiary that I couldn't (or wouldn't) read it. But accompanying the article was an illustration of the U.S. Capitol building exploding in flames. I had also heard that a journalist in Russia was assassinated because he wrote about unrest in Dhagestan (a small region near Georgia that wants independence from Russia). His editor was suspended by none other than Putin himself. This was not at a government newspaper, it was an private one.
It reminds me that our freedom is definitely something for which to be grateful!