Tuesday, 31 October 2017

A people without history… not redeemed

We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
….                                A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments.

This is just part of the last section of Little Gidding from T.S.Eliot’s Four Quartets, one of the greatest poems of the 20th century.  What’s it about? That’s much debated - but especially in November, the month of Remembrance we do well to remember those few words, “A people without history is not redeemed from time…”

There’s no quick way out of the mess into which humanity so frequently gets itself. It can be tempting for Brexit negotiators to think that a “No Deal” position will allow us to start with a clean economic slate full of opportunity - but opportunity requires a willingness to engage with hard realities. Catalonian leaders might argue that a declaration of independence from Spain immediately confers on their country a new nationhood which all should recognise - but that is to ignore a history which is somewhat harder to unpick. The leaders of North Korea and the USA may speak of nuclear options - but the cost would be devastation.

The season of Remembrance begins with remembering the holy ones of God and our loved ones at All Saints and All Souls.  In remembering those who gave their lives in time of War, we see a sacrifice which weighs on us through the years to this day. It needs to be honoured. We cannot live only for the moment. How did we get here? Where do we go? The Cross and Resurrection of Christ stand in history too - and call us on our way.             

Martin Jackson

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