We cannot change history.
Not our own personal history.
Nor the history of our people or our country or religion or the world.
We cannot change it and we cannot erase it.
We can learn.
And write a better history with the few new days at our disposal.
There is no fixing it.
There is no compensation or making amends or providing reparation.
How do you ‘fix’ loss?
Loss of honor.
Loss of trust.
Loss of dignity.
Loss of truth or life or time.
Perchance we could ‘repair’ loss of stuff, give back something material which was unjustly taken, but even that becomes impossible as time goes by and circumstances change and loss compounds.
There is no making un-dead of the dead.
There is no un-exploding the bomb.
There is no un-doing the war.
Those three are probably the most we can do, when it comes to history.
And, if we are fortunate, forgive.
Acknowledge and apologise for my history which caused loss.
Hoping, somehow, somewhere, there will be grace amongst humans.
Grace to erase what has been done.
To set it aside and grant absolution, as if it was absolutely not done.
Embrace and forgive for my history which was plagued by loss caused to me.
For we do not struggle to come to terms with history empty of loss.
It is the loss we bemoan, unaware that life is filled with loss and gain and loss again.
It is the loss which we allow to take us prisoner, preventing us from living new days in freedom.
Uninformed that loss is often gain, or at least the gateway to gain, and gain the door to loss again – the undeniable encoded rhythm of this life, which we choose to deny.
It is easier to forgive, when we see this.
And when we forgive, we are free to live and write new history.
This is what we want to do.
Most of us.
We want to write a better story.
For our faith.
For our nation.
Well, most of us.
But if we are stuck in the loss, the better story will never come.
Which is often the case in our personal lives, and in our corporate life we share with believers and a nation and nations.
Of course, there is wrong perceived, which was no wrong at all.
Often, when we live honestly, others will experience loss, for then we choose our own integrity above their gain, which implies their loss.
This is history we are not ashamed of.
History we can acknowledge and embrace.
The kind of history we need to write with the moments of our lives.
Even if it isn’t or won’t be recognised as beautiful.
But we all have history, if we reflect in honesty, which we would want to be different.
Wrongs we did.
I know I do.
In my individual moments.
In my life shared with a long line of people who lived in France and The Netherlands and Ireland, a few hundred centuries ago.
In my life shared with people who fled to Africa, via Belgium, to escape persecution and then brought that same persecution with us, like the plague, for it is in our DNA to eat ourselves, subjecting others to the horrid death we barely escaped.
I cannot ‘repair’ that history.
I cannot un-do it.
Not the centuries of history which brought me to being a European African seeking the secrets of happiness in the Far East.
Not the few small decades of history, which brought me to being husband and father and friend, enemy and opponent and irritant, to a little bit of people in a world which thinks it is sophisticated, but is really lost in its own ego.
I can only apologise.
Seek forgiveness and live differently.
Or, at least, try to live differently, which seems to be doable, pushed onward by the energy of seeing the wrong and its consequences.
By the wind of our Origin, always calling us to become what we were created to be.
And so I humbly say I am sorry.
For the destructive works of my hands.
Intended and unintended.
Inspired by my avarice and stumbled into through my incompetent fumbling.
Caused by my father and his father and their fathers, as well, bringing me privilege which cannot be described, while robbing countless others of humanity and dignity.
And I embrace.
Injustice of centuries and decades is not un-done in a few words.
They are only un-done in forgiveness and absolution.
In an intervention of magnificent magnitude, ripping apart a curtain which divides and bringing darkness upon the earth, so that light may shine.
And I embrace.
Brokenness of existence and being is un-done in the Word in whom we find our collective origin.
In the Being from whom our being flows.
And I hope, in all I am and all I think and do, even as new days bring new lies and hurt and shame, for I am of earth as well, not consuming the fat and honey reserved for Deities, that this too will be sunken, deep in unfathomable oceans, so that eventually we may find restoration, in our being, to life beyond description.
And I implore – embrace it too, for if not embraced by you and me and all we know and meet, we are doomed to continue spiralling down the dark abyss of anger and rejection, never to become what we could be.
Or as a people.