Correspondence

A Brilliant, Fading Bliss

Letter From Lynden

Trekking north along the closest major artery, Canada-bound travelers are treated to a small hotel with a decorative windmill, several car dealerships, and a shopping center with a McDonald’s, a Blockbuster, and a Subway—all common manifestations of the Pax Americana.  Then, however, they reach a graveyard.

Bisected by Front Street, the bricked-in cemetery with decorative iron bars is the first landmark people see that bears the sign “Lynden”—one on each side of the street.  Not “Welcome to . . . ” with a grandiosely narrow claim differentiating it from other towns (“the world’s largest manufacturer of grilled cheese”).  Just “Lynden,” take it or leave it.  A visiting missionary recently thumbed his nose at the city’s decision to place the bus depot just east of the graveyard: “Where I come from, they put busses where the people are.  They had the right idea but forgot to check for a pulse.”

He was quite wrong: The graveyard has a pulse all its own.  The ebb and flow of the seasons brings a steady stream of families to lay flowers on the graves and to remember and to pray.  While dead men don’t tell tales, their mourners do.

I’m a recent enough immigrant, with an outsider’s distance still intact, so I go there to disconfirm an old wives’ tale.  Driving...

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