For much of my life Zion Lutheran Church existed in the distant corners of my memory. Tucked away, behind stories of my life on the prairie, I could only recall a musty, wooden basement that I met in my youth. I did not even know the name Zion Lutheran Church.
During our time in North Dakota Deb and I have heard stories--stories of dreams, of losing wedding rings, of time spent with grandchildren, of living in r.v.s, of watching barn swallows. Stories infuse the landscape of North Dakota.
But along our way, and on a forgotten gravel road, stands Zion Lutheran Church--and it has completed my own story, one that is now complete after 20 years of trying to find the language to tell it.
In 1991, when I was 4, I attended my great-grandmother's funeral. I only have the memory of the day she died and of being at a white church with a musty basement. I now know that church: what it looks like,with its cream-colored plaster walls and ceilings, the stained glass that marks the front of the church, and the quaint loft; I've now played hymns on the piano in the church; I have now seen the landscape that my childhood had forgotten.
Nestled in the prairie a few miles south of Noonan, ND, Zion Lutheran Church has imprinted itself more fully in my memory. It has helped me to complete my own story of loss and of remembering, which is what we do when we write. In agreeing to lead workshops across half of the state I did not think of my own roots and my own story, but in listening and helping others tell their stories, I have now been able to tell mine.