I'm reading a collection of biographies by Eric Metaxas right now, and it's making me kind of starry-eyed and romantic about history.
History is no fun unless you're a little starry-eyed and romantic about it. That's why I love touring historical landmarks. Standing on the same ground as, say, Victor Hugo makes old, mundane facts begin to sparkle with life.
Have you ever been in the room where the Declaration was signed?
I love stepping into history that way. Being immersed in a world that is so far removed from the current one.
But...is it actually so far removed?
I remember walking through gilded sitting rooms and opulent bedchambers at Versailles, and being awestruck. Not because of the splendor, really. No, I took in the grandeur, then I started thinking about what kind of person might live in such a space.
Male or female? I choose female. Royal? Probably. Did she sit in that chair, in her nightgown, with her legs curled up under her, daydreaming? Did she run down that magnificent hall, all gold and diamonds and mirrors, and dance with her reflection?
I want to assume (totally have to assume) that people back then were as real as people are now. Meaning, no matter how royal and rule-bound a person might have been, there must have been the temptation (and maybe the follow-through) to run and shout in long, almost empty hallways.
That's what fascinates me about history. Not the facts of it, so much. But the not-facts of it. The idea that some girl in a powdered wig and panniers had a heart that fluttered with the same longings my heart feels.
That a group of friends sat around a spinet and talked about God and the heavens and the future the same way my friends do.
After all, we're all people. We were all created by the same God and in the same Image and although times have changed, maybe we haven't so much.
Black-and-white history books make it easy to forget that people have always been people.
But when I stand in the middle of history, at the foot of a palace or on a Civil War battleground, suddenly history becomes much less black-and-white.
It kind of puts things in perspective.
History is, really, just a million little stories about people. Royal people and not royal people, failures and victories and wars and revivals. All of which happened at the hands of humans who have very similar souls. Because they were all modeled from the same Image.
And those million stories are actually telling one singular, spectacular tale of failure, grace, and redemption. Which, to me, is kind of wild to think about. Because I am so quick to make the whole world about me. My generation. My culture. My now.
It's easy to assume that our generation, our time, is the best and most forward-thinking and has more of the right answers than ever before.
The truth is, our now is as tiny and fragile as a speck of dust. We are not not the pinnacle of anything--just another moment in the very, very big Story.
The same Story was being told at Versailles, when that court was at it's most bustling and magnificent.
The same Story was being told during the Middle Ages, and the American Revolution, and in Napoleon's court.
Some girl in Jerusalem in 2 AD felt the weight of her sin and the hopelessness of seemingly unbreakable patterns and felt utterly defeated.
And her Papa held her in the same way He holds me, and whispered truth in her ear. And she understood the Truth and was better and stronger for it.
And because she knew her Papa, and His whispers, other people came to know Him. And the Story lived on, all the way until that girl in the palace ran down the Hall of Mirrors in stocking feet. All the way until me.
And the Story will keep going far past me. All the way until eternity, then further.