I’ve been sorting through some old papers lately (who hasn’t?). I came across a sermon my aunt saved from the First Presbyterian Church of Fargo from 1963. I’m not sure why she saved it; there are no marginal notes or circles or arrows indicating what she thought was important about it.

The pastor was talking about the “juxtaposition” of advertising both gin and car insurance in the same publication.

The title was “This Mixed-Up World.”

My aunt was a nurse in Fargo. I remember going to Fargo with my family when we were in grade school for my twin brother to have his tonsils removed by a doctor my aunt recommended. I also recall going out to a fancy restaurant that I believe had a viewing area of a bowling alley. We were told we could order “whatever we want.” I think either one or both of my brothers got something fancy like crab legs.

The sermon suggests several things for how to live well. One is that “healthy-minded” individuals choose good role models. I never considered being a nurse, but I did try to emulate some of my aunt’s personal qualities. I appreciated that she went out of her way to try to show us kids a good time. She demonstrated various ways to successfully interact with the world. I tried to do that with my own nieces and nephews when they came to visit, traditionally the weekend after the Fourth of July being one of them.

Along with picking berries and wildflowers, and other adventures, church was often on the itinerary. We’d experience different liturgies, various prayers, familiar hymns, great architecture, diverse people and a shared spirit — all hopefully producing sacred images to overlay upon other aspects of existence.

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