Waseca County Pioneer 111 W. Elm Ave.

Waseca, MN (507) 837-6767


The opposite of déjà vu

Numerous times this week I thought of someone, and they either called me, texted me, or walked in my front door moments later. 
First, I was driving to work and thought of my friend Jake. I intended to give him an update on a life situation (positive) and hadn’t stopped to see him. As I was driving, I thought of what I would tell him. At the conclusion of my thought, my phone lit up with a text message from him asking me the very question I had just answered in my head. 
Ben Schlaak in New Richland walked into my office on Monday. Weeks prior I had told him I would set aside an NRHEG activities poster and calendar for him, but had forgotten. About an hour before he stopped in, I remembered and brought them up front. As it would happen, he stopped in that afternoon and had no idea I had forgotten, again, for weeks. 
I find incidents like these happening quite a bit lately, but those are the two that stick strongly in my mind. 
It’s almost like de javu, but in reverse. 
I genuinely believe all of us are connected in some way–so either my theory is proving itself or just maybe I like to find reinforcement for my obscure ideas in my daily travels. 
Life has been a rollercoaster this month. 
Brandon Schlaak, who was once a photographer for the newspaper and was a good friend, died unexpectedly last week. That was difficult to process. I felt a strong sense of “that can’t be true” the day I learned. I wouldn’t write anything in the paper that day because I simply couldn’t convince myself that it was “that Brandon.” 
For those who knew Brandon, he enjoyed conversation. Famously, so do I. Our visits were never short: When he would come into my office he would usually stay for an hour or two. He was a very kind and caring individual. 
My childhood church is closing. The First Congregational Church in New Richland will hold its final service Memorial Day weekend, next month in May 2024. 
I did not write a column last week because I learned of both of these events and I was far too grieved to write something I felt was appropriate for print. 
I have many strong memories of church. 
Pastor Pamela is the most prominent. 
I love Pastor Pam. She’s been here a long time. I was the only person in my confirmation class and I felt I really benefited from the one-on-one teaching. I learn best in smaller groups.
I’ll never forget my first homework assignment from her. 
I turned in a sheet with literally a one-word answer to her question about her sermon. “Baptism” was my answer.
She didn’t question it at all. 
She didn’t have to. Maybe it was the look in her eyes or maybe it was God, but something told me to do better. From that moment forward I reflected on the sermons she delivered and provided much more detailed responses. 
The church owned the house next door to mine all through my childhood, so I acquired many, many fond memories growing up with our pastor for a neighbor. 
Among them is running over to show the pastor my “Yu-gi-oh” cards or other trinkets. My siblings and I used to use the large hill in that backyard for winter sledding. We also used to rollerblade in the long, flat, paved driveway. 
The First Congregational Church, its pastors and members taught me Christianity is friendly and open. I was encouraged to ask questions and never felt pressured to believe anything simply “because I should” or “because I said so,” or “out of fear of going to Hell” or “tradition.” 
Learning about all of this last week I felt truly overwhelmed. How does one grieve the closure of their church? 
One of my favorite traditions of our church growing up was the Christmas Eve service. Oh, how I enjoyed the candles.  There was also the guitarist who came down to play special music for us. And Ruth, who sat in front of my dad and I, at our regular pew. Or Barb Crumb, our longtime organist. 
And Earl, who I liked to run up and hug as a kid attending church. 
Oh, and Shelly Moxon, our postal carrier who also is a member. And so many more. 
My brother and I used to play “Yu-gi-oh” with each other during services when we were really little. I also remember being allowed to stay in the Sunday School room and play if I didn’t want to attend the service afterwards. Dad really did whatever he could simply to ensure that I had a good time while I was in church. The two lessons my dad told my siblings and me that we had to learn while growing up were:
Love God
Get married and have kids
I’m still searching for the words, but I feel I must write something because of the many emotions that have affected me over the past two weeks. Each time I sat down to write, these issues have come flooding to my mind. 
Of course the newspaper continues ‘newspapering.’ 
As I think about things that have slipped away from me, my thoughts turn to how badly we all need each other–to those connections. Treasure one another. Be kind. Don’t take the good parts of life for granted. And perhaps most importantly, let the people who are important in your life know how you feel about them. 


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