I just read a book, In Search of God and Guinness, by Stephen Mansfield. Introducing the book, he makes the statement “I do not know when I became a lover of history”. The statement struck me. As he described his journey of becoming a lover of things past, it matched mine in many ways. I too, did not always love or appreciate that which came before. History classes and reading history books in school were agony. I found it dry, boring, and irrelevant at the time. Don’t get me wrong, I did well in the classes, I just did not enjoy or appreciate it. Even the elective Greek and Roman Philosophy course I took my first year in college seemed a silly mystery.
Some could chalk it up to youth, or that I was a girl from small town Kansas and thus too short sighted to “get it”. There may be some truth in that, but history to me was just disconnected facts and stories about people and places that had no impact on me now nor on where I was going. This held true until I discovered the Bible as the Word of God. More than good ideas to live by, Sunday School stories, or rules that should not be broken, but actually being the living breathing Word of GOD. Now this was HISTORY. I discovered a connectivity down through the ages that led right to my personal doorstep today. That backdrop birthed in me an appreciation and respect for what has gone before. I now understood why my families’ stories were important and impactful. I began to see intersections and circles of history that were very personal. Some were amusing, some eyebrow raising, some were painful and even embarrassing. All were helpful in helping me understand why today is as it is.
Being a lover of history is essential to living in and stewarding a Historic Landmark house, but not the dry disconnected kind of history. Restoring and maintaining a historic structure is not for the faint of heart, but when the history is personal and comes alive, the passion of “raising foundations” becomes an unseen force that holds you up and keeps you going. It is a commitment at a deeper level. Most do not get it. They just don’t see the vision as you do. I recall the scene in the Masterpiece Classic, Downton Abby where Lord Grantham is introducing the future Earl, Mathew Crawly to the estate: “you do not love the place yet, no you don’t love it. You see a million bricks that may crumble, a thousand gutters and pipes that may block and leak, and stones that will crack in the frost.” Mathew responds, “and you don’t?”, to which Robert replies. “I see my life’s work”. Later when he is discussing the future of the estate with his eldest daughter, Mary, Lord Grantham explains further: “I am a steward more than an owner, building on the work of those who have gone before”.
So the long view is not just helpful but necessary to informing the life we are now living, whatever that may be. Being a lover of history;
– cultivates depth and enlarges perspective.
– takes you outside and beyond yourself
– inspires you to give to something bigger and longer lasting than the length of your days, at the same time making your own way more sure, more steady, more focused.
Being a lover of history does not mean you abandon today. On the contrary, it will enhance your today. Nor does it require you abandon all that technological advancement offers. The vision for our home is to retain all of its depth, beauty and character but adding to it all the things that make life more efficient and yes, comfortable in today’s world. In other words, building wisely on what has gone before.
The stuff your own Stonebridge is made up of is much the same, building wisely on the stones left by the past. Discovering what and who went before. Seeing clearly that which has influenced who you are today, will add depth to your life’s journey. It will broaden your horizons and view-shed as you walk along your personal Stonebridge. You too are making history that someone, down the road may discover and love.
Look around and think about where you are. What are you standing on that you simply inherited? Take an inventory. That is a start.
– Start with the end in mind by asking, “How do you want to be remembered?” Write your own eulogy.
– Identify your life accounts and priorities
– Write the purpose of these accounts
– Envision what you want each account to look like
– Write what that account looks like as it exists today (the good, the bad and yes, the ugly)
– Commit to at least one step to take to close the gap between the dream and the “what is”.
Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy have a very compelling way of distilling down to a sweet essence a concept that is not necessarily new, yet with fresh life, like a fresh batch of cookies from a great recipe but tweaked with a yet to be identified ingredient. It may also be true that being intentional about one’s life is more critical today than ever, as going with the flow these days could really lead to some not so good places. At least it bears evaluation, but I am getting ahead of myself….back to the process.