On the cusp of my 85th birthday (6/3/1928) a retrospective musing on YEAR 84 may be in order. Ruth and I celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary on December 27th, 2013. Anniversary observance was shared with four Twin Cities families that included mates and several grandchildren. High point of a delightful family gathering was sharing with each a copy of the homily I read that my father delivered at our wedding. The homily text based on Isaiah 43 read: “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. ” Theme: THOU ART MINE. Subsequent to the family anniversary we shared a special evening with a daughter and mate who were celebrating their twenty- fifth wedding anniversary on the same date as Ruth and myself.
Recently Concordia University observed the annual Employee Recognition Service. Recognized are years of service to Concordia University, St. Paul. Another category recognizes years of Service to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. The program notes in my behalf read:
Fred Bartling – 60 years
Fred came to Concordia in 1961 to teach at Concordia Academy and joined the College and University faculty until his retirement in 1991. He treasures his years with the academy boys having experienced prep school at Concordia in Milwaukee, Wis. Fred’s tenure was most pleasurable and he thanks his colleagues, students and Lord or the privilege of his teaching vocation.
A footnote. What appear above is the result of editing what I wrote. Dealing with teen age young men demands gentleness and understanding. I had experienced prep school and was familiar with the drill. I never had many problems with discipline. I simply responded to reality: “You can’t fight ’em – join, em”. We shared, in the main, personal regard and learned much socially and intellectually along the way. At the College and University level I taught a wide range of courses relating to American history. Especially meaningful for me was lecturing and sharing friendship with minority and South-East Asian students and developing new curriculum resulting from the Civil Rights 60’s. Matters of race, gender, and social equality had to be addressed. This I did with passion.
YEAR 84 – ANNIVERSARIES AND CONTINUED BLESSINGS
Well advanced in age and well past the Biblical three-score and ten life has a new verve and satisfaction here at Becketwood – numerous new friends, couples, opportunities to serve in the cooperative. Ruth has committee assignments and so do I. Physical activity remains important and our individual choices in that regard are individual, except in summer when the beach beckons. Relative good health has been a special blessing. But at heart – the attraction and love that bound us remain as always assured. Most importantly the meaning and purpose of our marriage is our children, their mates, and grandchildren. The pleasure I had as father of six children enriched my life. Raised them in a shared playfulness and permissiveness, and, in my view, parenting without letting ethical value lose foothold is fundamental. Parenting discussed in my blog at this website regarding pygmy parenting sets the tone. I have little use for law unless it is informed by grace as bedrock for meaning in life. Law is the schoolmaster to draw us to the Gospel. I hope some of those values were reflected in dealing with family and marriage, and my relationship to my students over five decades.
My maternal forebears chose Psalm 103 as The Family Birthday Psalm. As a member of that lineage I claim Psalm 103 as My Birthday Psalm. At age eighty-five with long life comes the reality that the day is far spent and the shadows of evening are lengthening. But Underneath are the Everlasting Arms. “Praise the Lord, my soul!” Psalm 103 is a hymn declaring the vastness of God’s love as supremely shown in love and compassion of his people as sinners and upholding them as frail mortals. Indeed, “Praise the Lord, my soul!”