“I am certain in my heart that all that I am, I have received from God.” ~ Saint Patrick
Alone with none but thee, my God,
I journey on my way;
What need I fear, when Thou art near,
O King of night and day?
More safe am I within Thy hand,
Than if a host did ’round me stand
This is a hymn attributed to St. Colmcille, a Christian missionary, monk, saint from the sixth century in Ireland. He produced beautifully illuminated scripture manuscripts, established many monasteries in Ireland, and showed the love of Christ to others through his lifelong service.
After some years however, an event occurred which changed the entire direction of his life. The Battle of the Book, a fight resulting from a legal battle over an illuminated manuscript he was accused of copying from another, took place in the valley near the Drumcliffe Monastery. Many died, and Colmcille felt horrible. The weight of sin, the effects of greed and human pride, weighed heavily upon him. He left Ireland and eventually sailed to establish a very influential monastery, Iona, off the coast of Scotland. He used this heartache and remorse to let God use him in a new and mighty way for the rest of his life. Mistakes didn’t mean the end for him. After repentance and prayer, God redirected him and continued to use him.
History has a way of calming me. Somehow, by reading the lives of others who have gone before me, the struggles and challenges they faced, the faith they showed through difficult times, lets me know that nothing is new under the sun. Hard times come, hard times go, but Jesus Christ remains constant and faithful to be with us through all of these times.
Call upon the Name of the Lord. He is the only answer for what you face, what I face. He will answer.
I have been quiet. It happens when I don’t know quite what to say. I don’t want to just add to the vast plethora of information and feelings that we are all trying to discern and sift through. So, I haven’t wanted to write.
But today, I was walking past the photographs we have in our living room of our grandparents. It hit me that they all went through the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 and also reeling with the end of WWI. I don’t know the details of what happened to each of them during this time, as they never talked of it. And I never asked, being wrapped up in the self-focus of youth. I wish I could talk to them now about it.
I cannot tell you how this has heartened me. The same God who strengthened them will strengthen us. It will be hard, it is hard, but we will make it through this time eventually. Strength from the past. Hope for the future. Trust in our God.
I miss hearing the stories. The stories of when our parents and grandparents were young. How they worked hard on the farm, had to go to school through waist high snow drifts, how they cheered for the football team, how they met and fell in love, their hopes and dreams.
I have been working on recording our family histories and memories, and I realize how egocentric I was as a younger person. I could have heard hundreds of wonderful stories that would have made the people I love come to life in a whole new way in my mind. But I missed so many of them by not asking. The ones I do know and heard I treasure like little nuggets of gold.
So I am trying better now. To listen, to ask, to actually see the person I am talking to. To imagine their life through their eyes. And it has been wonderful.
History is a story. A story of where we’ve been, lessons we’ve learned, both good and bad. History forgotten is time wasted. It sets people up for repeating mistakes over and over.
One of the best things about Ireland is the respect shown for the past. They don’t tear down the past, simply because it might be empty, falling apart, or what is considered to be culturally irrelevant by some. The celtic crosses, the monasteries, the abandoned cottages. They remain as a testament to what was, what was learned, where they have been. And gives an amazing sense of hope for the future. That the things of God remain, that no matter what man might say, God is alive and well in 2020 and forever.