A Trip to Reedsburg and Back

August 20, 2023

I assume we've all felt this at some point in our lives; we wonder what impact we really have on others and ask ourselves if what we do really brings value to lives of those we come across. I know I certainly have. I was given a gift a few days ago. The gift of seeing what I do come full circle and bring light and value to someone's life. Here's how it happened.

My husband, Paul, is a pastor. One of his pastoral duties is to visit members of our church that cannot leave their home very easily to attend Divine Service. We call them "shut-ins". Instead, he brings the church to them. He visits regularly to pray with them, say a short sermon and recap of that week's church service, and to bring them Holy Communion. When he first started this duty four years ago, he met Gail. In talking to her he found out that she happened to have been a member way up in Wisconsin at St. Peter's Lutheran church in Reedsburg. This place sounded familiar to Paul so he asked me if I had ever heard of it. "Yes! That's where my grandpa was a pastor!" I grew up making regular trips to Reedsburg and St. Peter's. In fact, way back when I was exclusively working with film photography, I took this photo of one of St. Peter's windows

This is very likely the first photo I ever took of a church. I had a copy made for Gail and framed it for her. She just loved it.

A little over a month ago, life happened to take us right by Reedsburg so I made arrangements to photograph the church. Oh, and look here! That's my grandpa Quill.

St. Peter's is a stunning church. Just look at it.

When we returned I was trying to figure out with of these images I would print, frame, and give to Gail. Paul suggested that she needed all of them. I thought that was a great idea so instead, we ordered a bound book with a red cover to pay homage to the red carpet in St. Peter's.

Last week I was able to hand deliver the book to Gail. This is where it gets good.

I watched her as she slowly, lovingly turned each page. Each photo made her more emotional than the last and I could feel that in my own heart as well. She relived precious memories in a place that was so dear to her. Seeing her so incredibly invested in images of a church that she loved was simply a gift to me. I felt validated in those moments. I knew that something I had done really mattered to someone else and brought something of great value to their life. And all I had to do was something I loved doing anyway.

The Christian life is one of service. We don't live simply to be a "better Christian". We live to serve our neighbors and in doing that, we serve God. I'm not always good at it. I fail a lot. This time, though, as imperfect as I am, I think I succeeded. I am so thankful that by doing something I love, I was able to serve my neighbor. God doesn't need photos of His churches. But his beloved child, Gail certainly does.