Dikkon Eberhart

Molly is excited about Easter! She gets to go to Aunt Jenny’s house and search for plastic Easter eggs hidden in the barn!

But something is BACKWARDS this year. What will happen? Will she learn more about Jesus and about how much He loves us?

​Meadow Rue Merrill’s latest Lantern Hill Farm children’s book--THE BACKWARDS EASTER EGG HUNT—is now available from Hendrickson Publishers. This delightful bound book (also available as a board book) will excite young readers and will thrill parent and grandparent readers with its clever story, its vivid illustrations, its opportunity to teach the Christian message, and with its focus on children being participants in the story but not the point of it.

The point is God’s great love for us all, the kind of love which, in Molly’s thoughts, “makes you brand new and sparkly, too.”

I had been delighted with the book myself and so I deputized my oldest granddaughter as my test reader. She’s seven (ALMOST EIGHT!), and she’s an expressive reader. She had loved Merrill’s first Lantern Hill Farm book, THE CHRISTMAS CRADLE, which introduced the same characters—Molly, Baby Charlie, Mama and Papa, Aunt Jenny and Uncle Gerry, and friends—when it appeared last year. (Three additional Lantern Hill Farm books are slated to appear this year.)

When I handed my granddaughter THE BACKWARDS EASTER EGG HUNT, she was excited to have a new story about Molly. One of her comments to me about the Christmas book had been a thrilled interjection as she read it the first time, last fall, and was almost all the way through—“Grandpa, they already know about Jesus!”

I smiled. This time, I was certain, my granddaughter would find that Aunt Jenny already knew the real story—and she would help Molly and the other children discern for themselves—the real story of Easter. And that is what happened.

She handed the book back. “How did you like it, sweetie?” “I LOVE it!

I handed the book to my second reader, my oldest grandson, at six. He snuggled into my lap, gathered his next younger sister, at almost 4, and he did a good job reading the story to us—except for words like though and through, which certainly no one should be required to sound out.

My youngest grandson liked the book, too. He's one-and-a-half. He chewed on a corner of the book meditatively it for a bit and then tossed it away and went to build a block tower.

Meadow Merrill grew up on a farm in Oregon and now lives with her husband and children on a farm in Midcoast Maine. She is an experienced journalist with many credits and is the author of the award-winning inspirational memoir REDEEMING RUTH.

My friend Meadow and I were writing our memoirs at the same time, each of us trying to find a few hours here and there, and each of us enjoying life on the coast of Maine. My memoir was published and gained some attention, and I determined to do what I could to help promote REDEEMING RUTH...which is magnificently done as a memoir, deserving of its own awards.

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Dikkon Eberhart

Two weeks ago, I posted a short fairy tale under the title Once Upon a Time. I posted it under the WRITING heading. You can read it by backing up to The Longer View tab and selecting WRITING. It's what will come up, being the most recent.

I received compliments about it, which I appreciate because it was enjoyable to write, and I was happy that its point pleased others.

Since posting it, I’ve thought about its point as I have observed the world around me. The boy in Once Upon a Time is a creation of my imagination, but I have five grandchildren and some of them are about the same age as that boy.

The boy in the fairy tale is baffled at why a thing that he perceives to be true—for example, the color of the sky, blue—why that observation of his can’t be left to be true but must be stripped of its obvious truth and made into something slippery instead.

His step-mother tells him that there is no truth about the color of the sky. She asserts that all people must make the sky’s color in their minds into whatever color they think is true. The boy hopes to discover a new location in his countryside where truth is allowed, even encouraged, to remain truth.

As many a grandfather might do, when I watch my grandchildren, I wonder what they will have enjoyed, and what they will have suffered, in the year 2100. For example, my grandson Devar will be eighty-one in the year 2100.

In the year 2100, will western culture have learned that the glorification of its own immediate desires leads to hollowness and to self-destruction?

Or, in the year 2100, will western culture have re-discovered that sublimation of the self to a higher principle glorifies the higher principle and leads the self to fulfillment and to joyful life?

Who can predict?

All I can say at this moment is that that cultural selection between these two pathways is vital and choosing the second over the first is what will be salvific for us all.

Much pain and much suffering will come to those who either promote glorification of the self, or who become the victims of those who glorify themselves, and who then force others to support their self-glorification.

By some today—the self-glorifiers—what ought to be considered fundamental principles of culture, and even of life itself, are increasingly despised. To them, these principles are unsuitable any longer in a world busy to glorify its immediate desires.

Once, western culture turned for authority to biblical mandates and revelations. Turning that way was western culture's salvation. Once, the individual spoke and was accorded integrity based on his or her disclosure of fact and of principle. Once, too, the safety of the family unit was considered paramount for the successful raising of children.

Now, we seem to be trending in a different direction. Many of our public intellectuals consider these fundamental principles to be suspect. The principles are suspect—socially dangerous—because a person who bases his or her behavior on those fundamental principles is much more difficult to be motivated by, or to be controlled by, the self-glorification of the trendy.

The trendy need the glorification of the masses because some of them (and I suspect the most astute of them) probably understand that there is no factual basis for their own glory.

Hollow inside, some of them must fill themselves inside, and they demand adulation. And, being vengeful, some of them set out to destroy -- they call it "cancel" -- the livelihoods and the families of those who do not adulate them.

Their glorification of themselves in the modern moment is urgent. Consider the headliners who have become media candy by strutting their stuff as exemplars of something they are not.

Consider Devar’s age now. He (his family considers him to be a boy—as, particularly, both he and his big brother do), he looks at us out of the picture above and is completely happy with his maleness.

He knows that his mother and father are married, and that both of his grandfathers and both of his grandmothers are married. Those oldsters live in houses of their own. He has different toys to play with at their different houses, and he eats different food in their houses.

All of these things, he knows, are TRUE THINGS.

Fortunately there are still some adults in western culture who view this information that Devar has as being properly true, since it is true. And yet there are some in western culture—and they get lots of face time and adulation in media and in social media—there are some in western culture who would consider Devar benighted. The fact he considers himself to be a boy is absurd.

He should be informed that he is no more a boy than he is a girl. After all, the proper thing is that he should choose which one he feels like being on any particular day.

Crazily, this urgency from some in western culture is itself absurd. It’s akin to the story about the crazy man who goes around announcing that he is Napoleon. Of course, as everyone knows, he is not Napoleon.

The proper thing for society to do with the man who thinks he is Napoleon is to inform him that he is not Napoleon, to express sympathy that he thinks such an absurdity, and to offer him counseling to help him find his way out of his delusion.

That proper thing is not what the self-glorifiers do today. What they do today is to agree with the man who thinks he is Napoleon—"Yes, you are Napoleon"—and then they demand that all of society must view the poor fellow as Napoleon from that day forward.

As the self-glorifiers gain more social acceptance, and then more political power, they will do what self-glorifying tyrants have done in hundreds of circumstances during human history. They will demand total allegiance to their self-glorification by everyone they can control…or else.

If western society successfully champions this method of self-glorification all the way through until Devar’s eighty-first birthday, all of us will have become insane.

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A child went into the forest and became lost. It seemed to him that he had been lost for days. The child tried to follow what appeared to be pathways through the trees, but each pathway came to its end at an impenetrable place, just when the pathway seemed that it might open up further and lead to an exit from the forest.

What the child imagined would be the case when an exit from the forest was found was that a landscape of openness and beauty would be revealed. This landscape, as imagined by the child, would be a place where the child’s difficulty of escaping from the forest would be forgotten and instead happiness would reign.

It would also be a place where whatever was real was actually, really, real.

What would be important about this new landscape would be its provision of truth. If the day were sunny, then the actual sun would actually shine, and the sky would be blue—actually blue—and the sun would not be named something other than “sun” and the sky would not be colored chartreuse, which no one would be able to spell nor to define as a color.

The child had gone into the forest originally because the mother of the child had died and the father of the child had married another woman who was mean-spirited and who would not tell the child the truth.

This woman came from a different part of the country where different things were believed—in fact, some people in that different part of the country believed in nothing at all—and so trouble existed everywhere in that different part of the country. The trouble which existed there in that other part of the country explained why the step-mother had become mean-spirited in her maturity, although she was beautiful, which is what had impressed the father.

One time the child asked the step-mother, “What color is the sky?”

“The sky is whatever color you think it is.”

“The sky is blue.”

“You are a fool. The sky is whatever color anyone wants it to be.”

“But it can only be the color that it is.”

“No, fool. It can be whatever color anyone wants it to be. There is no such thing as it is. The sky does not have a color. You are free to make up its color to suit yourself. You are the authority. Not it.”

The child and the father and the step-mother lived in a small cottage next to the forest, where the father went each day to cut fire wood to sell at the market.

The child had sometimes gone into the forest with the father during the work day, particularly after the mother had died. Now, with the step-mother not telling the child the truth, the child was all the more inclined to go inside the forest and to speculate about finding what might be a more truthful landscape on the other side of the forest, if a way to such a place existed and could be found.

So one day the child went into the forest with the father. As the father was setting out his axes and saws, the child asked, “Father, what is on the other side of the forest?”

“I have never been to the other side of the forest, but I know men who have been there, and I believe the tales they tell. They tell of a place that is what it is—truly what it is. I am told it is a beautiful place where men and women, as well as children, can be safe because power exists there for rightness. It is power for the truth.”

“Father, I should like to go there sometime.”

The father chuckled. “So should I. But now I must work. You go along and play, but don’t wander off.”

The child did wander off and soon became lost.

Days seemed to pass. The child felt hungry and tired. The child missed the father. The child did not miss the step-mother. The child hoped soon to break through a final barrier and to emerge in the beautiful place of rightness and truth on the other side of the forest.

One evening, the child, who was exhausted, lay down and slept. In his sleep, he dreamed a dream. In his dream, a barrier at the end of a pathway through the trees did, at that moment, open up. What once had been confusion and difficulty for the child—what had been scratching and thorny to push through—suddenly broke open, and the child was able to step out from the forest and, in his dream, to stand where bright white sun shone in the blue sky.

A spirit being appeared. The spirit radiated light and truth and love and a deep urgency of welcome.

“Welcome Home, boy,” the spirit being said.

“Is this my home? I must return to my father.”

“This will be your Home, in time. For you and for your father.”

“I cannot abandon him.”

“Of course. But first, before you go back, look around. What do you see?”

“I see….” The boy looked around and thought. “I see…what I see is what always has been. What always has been…and is true.”

“Is it true now?”

“It is true now.” The boy looked around some more. He took a breath. “It is true for always and forever.”

“Good! That is good, boy. I will send you back to your father, who otherwise might miss you and worry you are lost.”

“I was lost.”

“No longer. Here’s what I charge you with. Help your father talk to his wife about what is true, here, on the other side of the forest. Your step-mother is lost as well. Perhaps all three of you may someday come Home.”

The child stretched and rolled over and opened his eyes. He was in the clearing where his father was cutting wood. His father smiled at him. “Nice nap?” he asked.

“Let’s go home and talk with Mama,” the boy said.

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