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Making Space for God

by Br. Bertrand Vogelweide, OSB
On my way home to Carrington from the abbey, I frequently stop at the old Denhoff Catholic Cemetery, hidden from Highway 200 by a hill. The place is always mowed, a protected bowl of green under the bright prairie sun. Chokecherry bushes stand on either side of the gate. In the summertime, meadowlarks sing from fence posts all down the road. The last person buried in the Denhoff Catholic Cemetery was Sophia Jatonin 1982. There are exactly eighty-two markers that crowd near the west fence almost like occupants in the last pews in church; evidently no one wanted to be out in the middle, much less just inside the gate.  Denhoff is a ghost town. The 2010 census lists twenty people still living there but one would never know. And at any rate, the cemetery is a mile from town. Quite undisturbed, I say a prayer for the deceased, pour myself some coffee, and open my breviary. The psalms are always a good companion among tombstones.  Someday as a project I would love to visit every rural cemetery in North Dakota. Not all can be found because not all are cared for. Some are choked in weeds, neglected and forgotten. Given my preference, I would rather visit prairie churches, but most are kept locked, and for good reason. A nice alternative is a quiet graveyard. Some even have benches. Among the dead I tend to whisper, if anything is to be said at all. In the Denhoff Cemetery, where I pray psalms, I am fully aware of the sanctuary offered me, made for the few gentle souls at rest there, and for the living who visit them. Most of us need quiet for prayer. In Matthew 6:6 Jesus instructs, “But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret space, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.” The room spoken of might include—I will assume—a quiet place of any sort, including an automobile when traveling alone, a bench in the park, a bedroom, a shrine, a church, or even the laundry room in the basement. If cemeteries are not on your list of favorite spots, some of North Dakota’s out-of-the- way historic sites are inspiring and rarely visited. More often than not they are situated within territory that is lovely and inspiring.
Spiritual Reflections Spiritual Reflections

Making Space for God

by Br. Bertrand Vogelweide, OSB
On my way home to Carrington from the abbey, I frequently stop at the old Denhoff Catholic Cemetery, hidden from Highway 200 by a hill. The place is always mowed, a protected bowl of green under the bright prairie sun. Chokecherry bushes stand on either side of the gate. In the summertime, meadowlarks sing from fence posts all down the road. The last person buried in the Denhoff Catholic Cemetery was Sophia Jatonin 1982. There are exactly eighty-two markers that crowd near the west fence almost like occupants in the last pews in church; evidently no one wanted to be out in the middle, much less just inside the gate.  Denhoff is a ghost town. The 2010 census lists twenty people still living there but one would never know. And at any rate, the cemetery is a mile from town. Quite undisturbed, I say a prayer for the deceased, pour myself some coffee, and open my breviary. The psalms are always a good companion among tombstones.  Someday as a project I would love to visit every rural cemetery in North Dakota. Not all can be found because not all are cared for. Some are choked in weeds, neglected and forgotten. Given my preference, I would rather visit prairie churches, but most are kept locked, and for good reason. A nice alternative is a quiet graveyard. Some even have benches. Among the dead I tend to whisper, if anything is to be said at all. In the Denhoff Cemetery, where I pray psalms, I am fully aware of the sanctuary offered me, made for the few gentle souls at rest there, and for the living who visit them. Most of us need quiet for prayer. In Matthew 6:6 Jesus instructs, “But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret space, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.” The room spoken of might include—I will assume—a quiet place of any sort, including an automobile when traveling alone, a bench in the park, a bedroom, a shrine, a church, or even the laundry room in the basement. If cemeteries are not on your list of favorite spots, some of North Dakota’s out-of-the-way historic sites are inspiring and rarely visited. More often than not they are situated within territory that is lovely and inspiring.
Spiritual Reflections Spiritual Reflections
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Phone (701) 974 3315 Address PO Box A Richardton, ND 58601