Where History Meets the Future. I love this phrase. It speaks not of a dead, dry past, but a living history that interacts with our present into the future. A history that is important not only because of what it tells us about that past, but what it tells us about what is to come. In Singapore on a recent visit (one of my favorite places), I saw this exhibition for the Fullerton hotel, a landmark from the colonial past. Singapore is one of the places on earth where the old and new exist side by side in beautiful preservation, however imperfectly as it always is.
The words heritage gallery are used, and it is this rich word heritage that carries both meanings. Heritage speaks of the treasures of the past, but there is also a connection to the future. The heritage of a place is not only what it was in history, but what it means to the generations that came after, and will continue to come after until the end of time. History meets the future when the promises and dreams of the people that lived before, however partially or completely unfulfilled, continue to live on into the present and future. Thus providing a treasure of resource for continued hope.
I write this post in another place that has done very well in maintaining the heritage of the past. In this city of China it is the celebration of the heritage of the Tang Dynasty, one of the most inclusive dynasties that ruled from the seventh century A.D. It was during the Tang Dynasty, in 635, that a group of Persian Christian missionaries led by Olopen arrived in the capital city of Chang’an, (now Xi’an), and had a personal audience with the Emperor. That led to royal favor being given to the faith, and the spread of the Christian religion in many parts of the Empire unit the middle of the ninth century when it was suppressed.
This city of Xi’an, where the primary route of the Silk Road started, has many monuments that have been beautifully preserved, including the ancient city’s walls. The heritage of the Empire, though long vanished, has been preserved as a source of encouragement, pride and hope. Heritage carries a power that does not die. It lives on, and can’t be suppressed.
Wherever we live, it is our generation’s responsibility to make sure that the old is not vanquished, that it is remembered and cherished. That of course does not only mean monuments, but also people. Valuing the stories of the old, and somehow seeing them preserved so that future generations can be blessed. We may do that through oral histories, written memoirs, photo albums. There are many creative ways, especially now in our digital age. But so much can also be lost, if we are not intentional.
I have a good friend where I live part of the year, who is now in his 80’s. He is a wealth of riches in knowledge and experience, in heritage. He is a walking heritage, or as some people are described, a national treasure. I have tried to get him to write some kind of blog, so that the generations to come can read his thoughts and they are not lost. We will see if it can still bear fruit.
I long that heritage be preserved. Not lost, not destroyed, but honored. Cherished. Treasured. What steps can you take today to do that in your world?? The future asks you that question.