REFLECTIONS ON HISTORY
I stood on the moldering remains of Hadrian’s wall, which was built by the Romans 1900 years ago to protect the northern border of Britain, and felt like I was looking through a window into history. To the north, I could see barns and fences built with stones scavenged from the wall long after it was abandoned by Rome. Those newer structures had themselves become part of ancient history. It was like studying the concentric, age rings of an old tree. As the persistent winds whipped across the old stones, I found myself pondering the lives of those who had once occupied these lands and reflecting upon the words of G.M. Trevelyn, featured in a nearby museum, which eloquently captured the quandary of history and time:
The poetry of history lies in the quasi-miraculous fact that once upon this earth,
on this familiar spot of ground, walked other men and women as actual as we
are today, thinking their own thoughts, swayed by their own passions, but now
all gone, one generation vanishing after another, gone as utterly as we ourselves
will shortly be, like ghosts at cockcrow.
I marveled at this fact of history, that we are interconnected with people of the
past and share many of the same experiences, thoughts and emotions; however,
the unwelcome reminder that we all share the same end nearly caused me to
despair. Some years later, I read this startling prophecy in the book of Isaiah
which foretold an end to this common fate:
And he (the Lord) will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast
over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow
up death forever and the Lord will wipe away tears from all faces.
700 years later-on that same mountain-Christ was crucified.
“…He was pierced for our transgressions,” Isaiah prophesied, “he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Isaiah called Him Immanuel, which means “God with us." He had come to give his life as a ransom and “make many to be accounted righteous.”
According to St. Paul, he was “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Christ Jesus, “...abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
What marvelous news. No need to despair.