As you may know, the Maulden family spent 2 weeks on the road this July. It was a mammoth road trip that took us through 16 states and covered nearly 5000 miles. This journey was first and foremost about family, many of whom we had not seen since before Covid. There are a few things about this trip that I wanted to share with you.

Our first destination was to Reads Landing, Minnesota. This tiny town on the Mississippi is where my Father and his sisters grew up. It used to be a significant port city during the timber boom and the fur trade. We had lunch with tons of family at the microbrewery in Reads. This building was the residence of my great Aunts Adelaide and Myrtle and other members of the family. They ran a tavern out of the bottom floor for many years. The business was sold a number years back, but the owners keep photos from the past on the walls. Photos that include members of my Dad’s family tending bar. That building holds a host of memories for me-visits to see my Great Aunt, setting off fire works by the train tracks and staying there when my kids were small. 

We also were given a private tour of the Wabasha Historical Society Museum in Reads. The museum resides in the school house where my Dad and his sisters attended school. His initials are carved in the wooden doorframe at the front entrance to the school. I traced the letters and thought how my hand was touching the spot where my Dad’s hands had rested as well. That moment I felt connected to the past and the present in a quick flash, a shifting of the air. I can close my eyes and see the details of that doorframe leap out of my memory. 

The next morning, we all gathered at the first of two cemeteries. The first one was in Lake City, MN, the second would be in Red Wing to bury my Aunt Mary. It was here in Lake City that I led the prayers for the committal of my Father’s ashes into the ground. Dust to dust. Ashes to ashes. Here beneath the ground forever are the earthly remains of the boy who carved his initials on the door at his school. The ashes of the young man who drove around town with his best friend looking for girls. The ashes of the chemist who married my Mother. The ashes of someone who knew me all my life and who understood who I was in a way no one else ever has. The ashes of the one who I called Daddy. Later that day we interred the ashes of my Aunt Mary. The day had turned stormy so we gathered under umbrellas to say goodby. 

We drove from Red Wing to Indianapolis the next day. We met more family from my Mother’s side. Stories of the past were shared as we gathered around the tombstones of my grandparent’s, great grandparents and great great grandparents. The history of our families live in our memories, are marked on and in the earth, are carried in the air of the houses where they once lived. I think of where I stood in the graveyard of my great grandparents, likely near to where my grandmother stood when her parents were buried there. Our souls are linked to the past in ways our minds cannot even begin to understand. It was a thin place for me-a place where the boundaries of this world and the next were blurred or perhaps were made clear. 

Our final family destination was to Anthony’s family who live on the coast in Alabama. We had not been able to visit with them for three years. There was joy there and sadness as well, as we mourned the loss of family who had died during Covid. All these travels emphasized to me the importance of our recalling our history and our interconnectedness to those within and outside of our families of origin. My friend from seminary would not ask you where you are from – she would ask “where are your people buried.” It is good to retrace those steps to those quiet graves, remembering and giving thanks to God for the lives who helped shape us.