The Past Lingers On Without History

These last couple of days we have been hanging out in one of my favorite places in Guangzhou, Shamian Island. Every time we come here, I feel some connection to a time that I could never know. It’s wonderful seeing the historical buildings that were constructed by Europeans who traveled to China for all sorts of reasons, some nobler reasons than others. Eitherway, I especially feel a distant connection with those immigrants who traveled to China so long ago.

It has been a personal dream of mine to travel to China ever since I first came to southern China to do ministry back in 2008 with Manna Church. God revealed so much to me throughout my first trip here to southern China and I dedicated so much of my time/ effort to finally move here to China. Today, as my family were taking an afternoon nap, I went for a walk and spent some time of self reflection while enjoying a latee at a local coffee shop.

As I walked the quiet streets of Shamian, listening to the trees and birds, my mind began to ponder what Shamian Island might have looked liked a century ago. I imagined a missionary living close by in one of the small French inspired flats hearing the church bells ringing throughout the streets and gathering his things as he walked out the door to the church. While the missionary was not attending to the church, he would spend a majority of his effort learning Cantonese so he could teach the locals more about God. As my mind began to drift back to the present, I started thinking about other things.

As I sat in the little coffee shop, sipping on my latee, I began to think of all of the old buildings and the history that they experienced. If only we could ask them of what they have seen over the years. If any of you have ever traveled here to Shamian, you might know that there are many historical buildings, but many of them have been repurposed into other uses. Several of these older buildings are now modern franchises and it seemed such a waste to see such history turned into a tourist attraction. It made me think about something that I have been seeing throughout China. I saw the same thing in Lushun up in Dalian, the same thing in our home of Shawan and here in Shamian. We are increasingly a people who are disconnected to our past, our culture, each other and even ourselves. What will future generations say about us? Will they just be as lost as we are ourselves?

The past seems charming at times, while the present seems cold and lacking personality. As modern creatures, we seem to constantly trade aspects of who we are as people for “comfort”. We seek to embrace the future at all costs and completely disregard the past or tradition because we don’t value what our ancestors accomplished. We are too often ignorant of our roots, often by design.

~ by branhow on May 2, 2022.

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