Tuesday, September 2, 2008
A Thousand Words
I am slowly hanging things on the walls of my office, in part because these walls are stubborn. Behind the paint is red tile that only a drill hammer can conquer. For now there is one piece that claims my identity in this room and perhaps it deserves this time alone. I reused a nail that remains from pastors past and proudly display a large photograph of my great, great grandfather, Pastor Nils Arveson, and his 1904 confirmads from North Prairie Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The scene is a formal sitting room with heavily draped windows and a large rug for décor. The girls wear long, white dresses with high laced collars, their hair in sensible and stylish buns. The boys are in suits and ties, hair parted down the middle and straight faced. My grandfather sits in the middle, his clown collar a distinguishing sign of the times.
The matte and frame are originals and the back of the frame is closed and contained by the slates from an old orange crate. Somehow it has lasted in fair condition to find a place on my wall and in the life of my ministry.
The strangest part? He looks like an Arvesen. Even though we are four generations removed and we have since changed the spelling slightly, I see my mother and grandfather’s faces in his. He is a spiritual ancestor, part of my Modern Church History curriculum at seminary, and the story of my immigrant past.
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