Malachi's Promise "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers...." Malachi 4:6

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Past Is Such a Safe Place

I've been letting my mind wander today while I complete some necessary hand-stitching. I was thinking about my daughter whose apartment was destroyed by a fire a few days ago. She is in a difficult position, not just physically (without a home of her own) but also emotionally. (She was not home when the fire started. It's possible that she'd not be with us if she had been: the fire began near the door and window, the only escape routes. We are grateful for tender mercies.)

I was thinking about the challenges of her situation when Pandora played a song that I frequently heard a few years ago when she was at college across the country and I felt sad and lonely with her so far away. That was not an easy time but today I thought how "safe" it was compared to now and the challenges she faces. For a moment I wished to turn the clock back and return to that safe time.

I'm not romanticizing, not imagining that the past was easier, gentler, happier, etc. Just safe now that it's over. Perhaps looking at the past is like reading a novel. From the distance of time -- or fiction -- we have a safe view of events.

I think of ancestor mothers who lost children or nursed them through months of disease; of husbands who lost wives; of families who lost fathers to suicide or tragic accidents, and mothers to senility or illness; of fires, floods, other disasters. Living through those times would have been horrendous. Years after the events did my ancestors, like me, feel a safety in the past when viewed through the lens of time?

This impression has come to me before and I wonder how is it that the past seems safe when living through it there were times that felt like living in a hurricane, being at the bottom of a black pit, or in the ocean without a lifeboat? Is it because, having survived that past difficulty, one feels stronger? Is it because it's over and done that the past can be viewed as safe? Is it the idea that the past difficulty, safely maneuvered, is more comfortable than the present difficulty?

Safe or not, the past is gone. The safety is only in my mind.

21 comments:

  1. Wow...points to ponder! But it seems so true...I detested my teen years but I look back now and it seems those were some of the best years of my life; I was so paranoid with my kids as they grew up - now wonder why I made such a big deal about it. Now I fear (well not really fear, but wonder) what old age will bring but yet when I die that will have slipped by too.

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  2. Just recently I've come to think that "past people" are safer too. Dead people don't care if you snoop into their lives...and they sometimes seem easier to like...

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  3. Nancy, I'm relieved to hear that your daughter is all right, even though at the same time I'm sorry she's had such a traumatic experience. If only we could protect the ones we love from trouble and heartache!

    Sometimes the past seems like a comforting, safe place to me because what's done is done, and no more harm can come now. In that way, genealogy even seems therapeutic. From one mother to another, I hope your daughter's situation will improve soon so you can both rest easier.

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  4. I too am relieved that your daughter was not at home when the fire started. You put your thoughts about the fire, the past, and safety...so beautifully!

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  5. Nancy, I'm not always impressed to comment on your posts but this one really makes me think about my past trials. I really appreciate the time and effort you put in your posts, they are a bright spot in my day.

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  6. I'm so glad your daughter is safe, and soon she'll be learning more than she ever expected, like home owners insurance, (if she didn't have it, maybe she will in the future), weighing in abt. where to live, and buying things to replenish what was lost. But, she is safe.
    Your photo caught my eye, and regardless what the topic, I knew I was going to read it. I don't think anytime was especially safe, but your post was very calming, like you were talking to me. Thanks.

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  7. I am glad she is well. That would be every parents nightmare. We expect to bury our parents, but not our children.

    Everything can be replaced, but her.

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  8. I'm so glad your daughter is ok - what a crazy thing to happen, but yes, still a tender mercy (Isn't it interesting how the Lord works?). Your post has made me think - I agree with you. Sometimes I think, too, that with distance of time we get rose colored glasses or are better at being grateful for, and loving things, from the past. For example, my mission was grueling and very difficult, but I loved it. It's been 10 years and I can barely remember the really rough times. I mostly think about how wonderful of an experience it was.

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  9. Nancy, I'm glad to hear your daughter is okay.

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  10. Oh, Lisa, I agree that dead people are easier to like. In fact I knew some when they were alive that I wasn't sure I liked a whole lot and now that they're gone, I think they're fabulous. I hope the dead don't mind that we snoop into their lives. If they mind and I meet them after death, I might be in for some trouble!

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  11. Thank you, Shelley, for your kind words. I'm confident that her situation will improve soon. The fire was on top of several other things....

    I like your thought that what's done is done, no more harm. I suppose there are sometimes residual emotional and mental scars but the events can't repeat themselves.

    Thanks again for your caring thoughts.

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  12. Thank you, Dorene. I appreciate your thoughts and the compliment.

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  13. Thank you, Jimmie. I appreciate those words of praise. A blogger never knows what people think unless readers leave comments. I appreciate yours. I'd be interested in hearing what you think about past trials after you reflect on the idea.

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  14. Barbara, thanks for your thoughts. My daughter is a young professional, just getting started. She's not one to have lots of possessions, even if money to buy them is plentiful, but I hope she does consider renter's insurance.

    If it was only the picture that brought you, I'm glad you came to visit and left a comment. Thank you.

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  15. Oh, Claudia, yes. I think being a mother always brings with it the concern for one's children. And sometimes our minds can be a little too broad in considering all the possibilities! I pray for their safety but do my best to avoid imagining the possibilities.

    Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  16. Becky, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's interesting how time gives us a different perspective. I agree that sometimes we can forget the words and remember the best.

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  17. Cinamon, thanks for your kind words. I appreciate them.

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  18. Mary, I think we are sometimes able to remember only the best of bad situations, like your high school experience. Yes, one of these years it will be all over and we'll be gone. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  19. What a blessing your daughter was gone from home, Nancy. And what a blessing she has you for emotional support. Sending prayers and warm thoughts for you both.

    I've not found anything harder to deal with in life than my children's suffering, save my mother's death. We're just coming out of such a time (I hope) and already finding a few bright spots in the last year. I'd not thought of the past in the terms you so eloquently you used, but I believe you're right. It is known (at least our own - would that those we research were!) rather than the unknown of today and tomorrow.

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  20. Thank you, Susan, for your prayers. I hope things continue to look up for you and your children.

    I think a known past, though hard, is probably not as hard as a known future would be. We just might not want to go into that future if it looked too hard. Probably an unknown future is best!

    Thanks again for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  21. I've had many thoughts about this as I have been writing a four part series about my grand-aunt.

    She had no descendants, and now that I've started delving into her history, I can see how each of her siblings' perspectives about their lives as a family may have been so different from hers.

    I had always thought her past so sad, and now am taking a different view.

    Dee at Shakin' the Family Tree

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