Recently retired, I spent almost 40 years teaching and preaching as a parish pastor. Several years ago (1997,) one of my parishioners asked me to submit one of my sermon illustrations to be used in Chip and Jean Borkenhagen’s second issue of their new Lake Country Journal Magazine. It was included and drew marvelous affirmation from people I knew, and strangers as well. The essay was reprinted in their 10th Anniversary Edition. That experience made me aware that my down-to-earth, touching, and humorous storytelling style of writing and speaking could appeal to a secular audience beyond the walls of the church. I went on to attend a dozen annual, week-long writing workshops. Along the way, my father’s unexpected death prompted me to start working on a memoir focused upon growing up in a family who were the only residents on the shore of a secluded lake in Northern Minnesota’s deep woods. The more I wrote, the more I loved it. I have received much encouragement from fellow writers in the Metro and Brainerd writing groups to which I belong. Writing workshop instructors have also been very encouraging.
In Campfire in the Basement: Reflections from a North Woods Lake, I celebrate the heritage given to us by the Greatest Generation. I honor traditional values of family, hard work, generosity, creation care, concern for the well-being of others, respect, public service, and education. I refer to my Scandinavian background and traditions. I celebrate life embraced by the beauty and wonder of the north woods and lake country.
I love to write. I love to tell stories. I love to lift up people, critters and the creation. I wish to entertain with my writing, but I also hope to encourage, give hope, and move people to action. I have learned to tell stories of everyday people experiencing the joys and challenges of real life, learning something from the outcomes and then maybe acting in a different way moving forward. My family, the lake and the surrounding woods and creatures provided my most basic and important education. Elementary, Secondary, College and Graduate educations provided more insight. Some of those 1950-60s lessons provide food for thought relating to our own challenging and sometimes disappointing world circumstances. No one stands alone. We need each other. Everyone has something to offer. Together, we can help to make our world just a little better place for each and for all.