I’ll Tell You a Story of People

I love history, but I’m not a history nut.

By that, I mean I enjoyed watching a movie production of Shakespeare’s Bolingbroke plays the other day, without feeling concerned that Henry IV was probably far less remorseful in real life, and Richard II, either more or less tragic.

I do my best to put all my fingers on the dates and wheres, but when I inevitably find British monarchs too much, or the politics of Indochina impossible to understand, I still try, and then see it as a portal for imagination.

I learn my history best, of course, from the fictionalized accounts, the exaggerations, or the stories from people who lived through it (with black and white illustrations.) I don’t mind the legends, debunked or not, because in the ‘basic idea’, there is room for bigger ones.

As I was lying on the couch, watching Henry IV, a phrase leaped out of the dialogue, that seemed to sum-up the entire set of plays. “Ill weaved ambition, how much art thou shrunk!” In the melancholy, weary phrase, I think I learned more about the state of affairs in England than facts could tell me, and better, I learned something about every man’s heart.

History, of course, is about the Providence of God.. He chooses, though, to work that through people. Tiny people, with hearts, who talk and dance and behave in a way to horrify and astound. No history is made without the personal touch – it’s how ideas are born, and wars fought and mistakes made. Why does history repeat itself? Because people are being people are being people.

It reads out as fatalistic, but it isn’t intended to be. Neither is it rah-rah you can change the world mantra. (I hate that word.) But if you and I are part of history, sitting here in front of the computer, how much again are the people around us. And truly now, how do you treat them?

We do not operate in a vacuum. What we say and the overflow of our own hearts impact people becoming history around us. Our  hill to die on, can be the cliff we push someone off. Our insistent choices can be what breaks the fragile. I often think of history in terms of that rhyme, “For want of a nail, the shoe is lost. For want of a shoe, the horse is lost…”

Then I give myself a shake and thank the Lord He reminds us ten million times to measure our words and actions with love, kindness and patient reckoning. History and Grace makes us reconsider the bugle calling a charge, and instead, love a little softer.


2 thoughts on “I’ll Tell You a Story of People

  1. When I was a child, I had an aunt who, busy with raising children, seeing me seldom, probably had no idea of the impact she had on me. I loved the peace and order in her home, and now I am discovering ways to be like her in my own home. If she hadn’t been there, doing her thing, would I even have thought to reach for this?
    I only remember a few visits. Maybe that’s all there was. But it was enough to change my history.



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