I could start this off with some vague metaphor (did you catch it?), but let me just be clear: there is a tapestry on a table (which to men is nothing more than a map of some geography) that is really time and they are fighting over which parts of it belong to who–like Monopoly (all rights deserved)!
History is bloodless, it has no heart–we spill our blood into it and leave its colors dark and while I sit there in my chair smirking, I wonder what is worth smirking at, nothing is funny here and there is so much I have fallen for that I have heard from my teachers I do not believe, but where can I reignite the fires in the eyes of dead men? They have left books, Chrysostom, and when I read their sermons and read their letters, Paul, I know that when Charlemagne became king, it was not the start of some Christendom held against the simplicity of discipleship, but a bursting forth of common grace, although it is the most unusual grace to me:
how can the intensity of bearing the suffering of sacrifice and the world be held in common with people who do not hold it? That grace called common must be a different kind of grace I am used to in my own life and in the life of other saints. We are left with the shards, I think, or maybe the ghost of a Christendom over our houses and lives like an early morning fog sticking to the ground after a warm snow. How can you blame a fog for being shiftless? This Christendom we point our bony fingers at has not grown from the ground of individual simple blades of grass into an institution and magisteria. This Christendom we point our bony fingers at is the general awareness of truth spread by faithful saints and is a heavy guilt that weighs down on guilty souls. And I do not hate it, because I do not hate guilt that leads to repentance. This fog is not so easy to shake off, but still there are dogs out there chasing some magisteria they will never find. It is the guilt on their backs that rides them.
And as for taking which parts of history I deserve, I will take all of history with the blemishes of all its saints. I don’t want the Renaissance or the Enlightenment, because every person standing in that early morning field as a blade of grass is a renaissance and an enlightenment. If truth is about comparing armies and who has more people in agreement with their wills, then I lose. Not a single blade of grass is in unison, but they make a field together. I see a community of individuals, because we do not die together. It is quite unnatural: about as unnatural as common grace. We each have our renaissances or enlightenments or not and then by it we are healed and ready to wither, so we come up together. But these individuals of history are ones of freedom and the undying spirit of a divine image all bound together at the beginning and end of this age. I choose to see the field as single blades of grass, because that is what it is and we see history as a place to extend grace to people we can know, not periods and beliefs and ideas. You can take the tapestry–take it all–I will pick out the threads–the men we can know–and I will lay them out line-by-line–how long will that tapestry be?–and I will see all their colors we soaked with our own–who has done the bloodletting?–and tell them that their work was not in vain, because it birthed guilt–who has repented?–for history is what we make of it, but these men speak for themselves–who has listened?