October 18, 2011
Some Thoughts on History
Building history. Yes, history happens on it's own, it's true. But we build history, too. Relational history.
When I first entered a small congregation, I figured out pretty quick that in order to be a part of things, I actually had to be a part of things. I know, that may sound trite, but it's true. If you want to be considered part of a congregation, a community of souls that are knit together, then you have to spend time with those people. You have to be there for both the pleasant and the unpleasant parts of being a community. The rejoicing and the cleanup...and everything in between. You have to be completely willing to give your all to the community - if you want to be considered a valued part, that is. At least, that's my experience.
As I continue to work through the emotions involved with leaving a tight-knit community where I actively sought to build relationship and history, and as I attempt to enter another, I am pondering this history building. Unfortunately, when we leave a particular situation, no one can leave the memories behind. We take them with us wherever we go, and then they surface unbidden at the most interesting, and sometimes annoying, times. I find myself wondering if those memories will eventually be shadowed by better memories, more recent and pleasant memories. Logic would dictate that will be the case, but I am convinced that the unforgettable memories of built, shared relational history stay with us until we breathe our last; they become part of our story, our personal history.
There are actually two definitions. 1) a collection of the events in that occurred in the past supported by evidence; this is a popular notion that history is the sum total of all that happened in the past. But for those who wish to be precise, history is the written record of past events. (The word itself comes from the French histoire which simply means 'story.') People who use this latter definition, refer to anything in the past that occurred before there were any written records as pre-history. Pre-history can be inferred only from such things as archaeological excavations and hints in folklore, i.e. very old folk-songs and folk-tales.
That's an interesting definition. There is a lot of personal history that is not written down anywhere; does that mean that it's not considered history? Most certainly not. All that has happened over the course of humanity is considered history in my mind, even if it has not been recorded in some dusty textbook. With the ease of publishing that the internet affords, I can easily see that those who like to be precise about history will be pleased and overwhelmed with the amount of written history that is being generated on blogs just like this one. The recorded personal history of the masses, via the internet, will soon have to be considered part of history as a whole, I would imagine (similar to those mundane items such as dinnerware found in archaeological digs).
I took the time to think through, and write out, a history (timeline) of that important period of my life; a time of learning, becoming and yes, a time of building relational history. I never thought that time would end, but it would seem that none of us truly know the direction our lives will twist and turn. Still, I continue to actively seek to build history and relationship with the souls that the LORD has brought into my life. I want to be a part of their lives, just as much as I wanted to be a part of those prior. Building history, memories and fond feelings towards each other is the essential element of community - without those pieces, community is nothing more than a farce, a shell of what it could be.
I suppose it always just boils down to that same theme, doesn't it? Love G-d and love your neighbor. You could add a bit more to that: love G-d and love your neighbor to make your life have purpose and meaning. And love. For if we all strive to build good history, pleasant, meaningful memories and fond feelings of care towards one another, all those good things will inevitably come back to us.