The Rev. Dr. Han van den Blink
St. Paul’s Church, Troy
Why are the nations in an uproar?
Why do people mutter empty threats?
Some of the most distressing episodes of my life occurred during the War in the Pacific (1941-1945) and the Indonesian struggle for independence which followed only a few days after the surrender of Japan on August 15, 1945.
For a long time I was not very invested in reflecting seriously on the past. My experiences during the War in the Pacific and its aftermath conditioned me to endure the present and to always think of ways to get to a, hopefully, better future. Learning to live in the moment in more recent years — and to having experienced myself that God is always in the moment– has been rewarding but also very challenging.
Now that I am getting older –I turned 81 earlier this year– there has been a decided shift in my disposition toward reflecting on the distant and more recent past. I am increasingly interested in discerning the presence of the energies of God in what is going on around me and in me, both in the here and now and in what was going in the past. For I have begun to trust that the energies of God are nothing other than epiphanies and manifest themselves anytime and everywhere.
Being invited to participate in the Pilgrimage Blog of our Diocese feels like an unexpected opportunity to engage in that kind of discernment. I will take a look at a few significant experiences in my past and more recent life, keeping in mind the wise counsel of Wendell Berry, “When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. You are remembering it as it is…Your life, as you have lived it, is way back yonder in time. But you are still living, and your living life, expectations subtracted, has a shape, and the shape of it includes the past (Hannah Coulter, Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004, p. 148)”.