Roots

I just received my results from Ancestry DNA. The results confirmed the research I’ve completed over the last 20 years that I am officially a displaced European “Mutt”!

Clarence DNA

For nearly two centuries, my genes were created by a indiscriminate breeding of the cast-off population of Scandinavia and Germany.  That my ancestors ended up in the Midwest portion of America by choice or a lack of direction is still under review. What is known is that all arrived seeking a better life for themselves or their family, not unlike the current crop of immigrant settling around us now.

My family history includes stories of young men and woman escaping war and famine. Some came for opportunities not available in their crowded homeland. Some were following their dreams, while others arrived because they drew the short straw! Whatever happened that made them take to the sea in the mid-eighteen hundreds, they all ended up as farmers and shopkeepers on the dusty plains of Dakota.

Together they survived because of a rugged independence imbued on them by the conditions they chose to settle in. They were a stubborn, some would say obstinate, people who made the best of their situation. (Who else would think that rotted cabbage and dried up whitefish (Sauerkraut and Lutefisk) could be cherished as the makings of a holiday treat?)

The fact that I still live happily in the rural midwest could be considered a testiment or a curse of the genes that shaped my being.

-CJ Holm

Ring Out!

A neighbor died this week. He was a fixture at St. Olaf Church, a small country church with a congregation of less than a hundred. Every Sunday, for many years, John would ring the church bells for the beginning and end of services. It was something small he did that not everyone noticed, but was part of the worship.

Next week someone will take up his role, but no one will do it better.

Ring Out

John’s hands gripped St. Olaf’s bell tower rope,
Sounding God’s message of forgiveness and hope.
A practiced cadence and years of measured strokes,
His special gift; a heartfelt call he shared with prairie folks.

Ring out the sound of salvation; Ring out God’s loving call
St. Olaf’s tower won’t be silent; John’s soul rings for us all.

                                                  -Clarence Holm

Morning Sight

Walking near my home, in the crisp December sun, I saw seven pheasants hopping and rolling in the snow. As I approached, they flew off into the chilly air. I regretted I had interrupted their fun…

Winter solstice freeze
Sundogs flicker, guarding light
Pheasants dance in bliss

                            -Clarence Holm