The older I get, the more the long arm of history seems to touch me. Born in the previous century, I have the sense that I’m supposed to do more than just acknowledge the guiding hands of yesteryear. The longer I live, the more I feel the responsibility to be a steward of the past, helping ensure that current generations don’t live as though there is nothing valuable to be learned from people and events that came before them.
I am very conscious of how my history can strengthen its grip through reverent retelling. How assuredly my heritage can knead valuable lessons into my core being. How it can pressure me to stay faithful to what’s always been true—so that the legacy I’ve received will continue into following generations.
That legacy stretches back to Appalachia and to immigrants escaping early wars in Europe. My olden times include forebears who were poor, church institutions that shaped my personal skills and attitudes, insistent faith that was forged by adversity and the risks of economic migration to California.
I can almost feel the hug—reminding me how I have been loved by ancestors who wanted life to be better for all who followed them. The enduring stories of my faith family apply gentle pressure on me to follow Christ. I sometimes wish I could show them how I am living out some of their fondest yearnings and staying close to their strongest values.
This naming and valuing the outstretched hands of history is something I’ve accepted as part of my lifework. It’s a privilege to remain a conservator of history, an arbiter of past and present realities, a hope-bringer—someone who will continue to be useful to those who want to live wisely.
Someone who will be part of God’s history-making touch….
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