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Through the Eyes of Love – the Dedication

IMG_9925“To MARY CATHERINE”… the dedication reads.

Short, sweet, and to the point. Very German, some would say. And I expect they would be right. Mary Catherine was my maternal grandmother, and had been Grandfather Rilling’s helpmate and companion for nearly 30 years at the time of this writing. Not to mention the mother of his three children. Talk about dedicated! Doesn’t she deserve more than a “To Mary Catherine”?

It was his way, and their way. Not effervescent, not ebullient, not over-flowing, but spare. And what they had, they gave first to the church. Not only Dr. Rilling but also his wife. I imagine the life of the wife of a pastor would be spent at functions and entertaining guests, keeping the kids quiet because “father is working” and generally managing the household so¬†he could attend to “bigger” things.

How different those times were ūüôā When women’s rights debates hadn’t set us to quarreling about the harder task, the bigger contribution, the working in or out of the home. But this dedication, to his wife, certainly signifies to whom – apart from God – he felt indebted.

These days, book dedications are generally more than a name; they are accompanied by a description or a reason why this (or these) were foundational or inspirational or set the tone for the writing of this book. Today there is enumeration that books of that day didn’t have, not because it wasn’t deserved, but because it wasn’t the practice. The name was enough.

And so, as I enter this book, I take this under advisement. It is¬†is my tendency to look through the eyes of my own age and evaluate according to the standards of my day. I want to read, “to My Sweet MC” … “who supported me completely” or “whose dedication to our family has ….”.

Looking back through my “today” eyes, I might be dismissive and prone to judge¬†unfairly. I can hardly help myself because, after all, I do bring me with me whenever I read. And with me comes what I know, what I’ve done, whom I’ve met, what I’ve heard and read, what I’ve been taught and the many layers of cultural biases of my day and age. I don’t apologize for this. But I must recognize it and try to suspend it, or at least apply it responsibly.

Was Dr. Rilling being dismissive to dedicate such a book, the collection of his lifelong work, just “To MARY CATHERINE”?¬†I don’t think so. As I look back into his time, through softened lenses, I read¬†the dedication more like the simple card you attach to a beautifully wrapped gift. Dear¬†Mary Catherine, this is for you.

And so it is with gift cards. I just needed to look at this one through the eyes of love, which seek to understand by standing for a moment in the other one’s shoes.¬†Big shoes, these would have been. Plenty of room for me, the little girl trying on Grandpa’s big wingtips, clonking and stumbling about just trying to keep my balance.

That I hope to do as I advance through these pages.

Breathtaking, briefly and beyond

People with a great mind are a dime a dozen.

People with a great heart are few.

People who use their strength in service to a great mind with great heart…priceless.

I am grateful for these people.

IMG_3794 IMG_3798They are humble and unassuming. Like the tiny maple saplings we bought for a dollar two decades ago that, this year, blazed in a yellow awning along the drive. Then, just days ago, shed their color in layers upon the lawn, brilliantly draping the bushes and the grass. Now their display is browning and blowing in the breeze, giving no hint of glory days so recent.

When colorful leaves were plentiful

but daylight was drawing short 

and end of life was closing in.

I am grateful for all who live their lives in a brilliant blaze, holding nothing back, presuming nothing, giving everything.¬†“Oaks of righteousness, the¬†planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor,” Isaiah says they shall be called. (Isaiah 61:4)

Lasting. Everlasting.¬†The leaves I rake today are the children of last year’s leaves and the grandchildren of the year before.

To what mind and heart am I applying my strength? In thankful offering to many generations past. In hopeful purchase for many generations to come. Imagine being a planting of the Lord. A tiny sapling, just a root ball and a few budding leaves.

That was what they were once, these who are now my shade and comfort.

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