Probably a thousand times. Most likely more. Driving through Schroeder, MN, there is a road sign for Father Baraga’s Cross that points toward Lake Superior. I almost passed this historical marker again on a sleepy 10.11.20 dawn. But, for some reason, as soon as I met the sign near to mile marker #78, I turned off to investigate this curious landmark. That turn resulted in one of my best decisions for Superior sunrise shooting yet…

As I made my way to the shoreline around 6:20, I was excited to see there was ample space for parking. Rocky outcroppings stretched to greet the lake, which meant I could use the rock as part of my photo composition. Vast and powerful, Superior’s sweeping exhales crashed onto the shoreline, exploding with mist and might. This first shot of the sky in the background near to Father Baraga’s Cross was taken at 6:42 a.m.

I learned that Father Baraga, for whom this superior site is named, was a selfless human, an immigrant, a kind soul who dedicated his life to help others. Upon the granite cross, is a plaque paying tribute to his meaningful life:

Father Frederic Baraga, learning of a possible epidemic afflicting the Indians at Grand Portage in 1846, set out in a small boat from Madeline Island in Wisconsin with an Indian guide. An unexpected storm threatened them but their lives were spared when the were blown over the sandbar and into the quiet mouth of Cross River. In thanksgiving they erected a small wooden cross at the site which was later replaced by this granite one.

Father Baraga, born in Yugoslavia in 1797, came to the United States in 1830 and devoted his life to the Indians of the upper Great Lakes. Consecrated a bishop of upper Michigan in 1853, Bishop Baraga, whose life was filled with heroism and zeal for souls, died January 19, 1868, and his remains rest in the crypt of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Marquette, Michigan.

6:50 a.m.

Wow. So inspiring to be reminded – again – what the human spirit is capable of.

6:55 a.m.

Waking up for Lake Superior sunrises, well…there is nothing quite like the anticipation of being there to try to absorb the magic and majesty of what our brave and beautiful Mother Earth has created. The beauty. The color. The grace. The overwhelming sense of gratitude. It all culminates as you see the skies transform, reflecting across miles of Superior waters.

7:04 a.m.

I’m a novice most definitely at this, with a few dozen Superior sunrise mornings to speak of. But, one thing I’ve learned is to always look toward the landscape. As the light reaches for where the solid footings and lake meet, there is always beauty to behold.

7:16 a.m.

So many colors, textures and tones. I fall in love with how the deep brooding water take on hints of pink and yellow, without apology.

7:17 a.m.

I thought it might be interesting to add a timestamp to the images here. The only photo with a filter is the 6:55 a.m. which I ran through Snapseed to try to lighten the rocks and add a bit of depth to the horizon line. The rest of the colors are Mother Nature through and through as interpreted via my iPhone 🙂

7:23 a.m.

I am not an overly religious human. With my dad passing this past August, I find my self thinking more about the mystery in the holiness that surrounds us. There are signs that hold such meaning and wonder and hope.

7:34 a.m.

During this precious morning, the universe and heavens and angels all swayed to the sweeping waves and invited me to do the same. With gratitude. Amen.

7:35 a.m.

I hope you stop down to see Father Baraga’s Cross on your next trip through Schroeder, MN. If you do, I’d love to hear your take on this sacred slice of shoreline.

This story first appeared on From Lutsen with Love in October 2020. All reflections and images are my own.

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