They say that history repeats itself. I guess I agree.
Downfall, rebuild. Downfall, rebuild. We see this happen time and again in every aspect of society- from political dramas to everyday relationships.
But, there's a beautiful opportunity for redemption every time history dips low.
Last week, our lecture guests spoke about how to redeem past wounds in our personal histories- and allow ourselves to be washed clean by the crazy, all-encompassing love of Christ.
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The week started off well. Mondays here are usually my favorite (which is a big change for me). I get to spend them training with peers under an amazing photographer and one of the bravest women of God I know. Last week, we visited two history-rich locations on the island to practice telling stories through photos.
Greenwell Farm was our first stop.
Founded in 1850, Greenwell Farm was one of the original coffee plantations on the big island of Hawaii. A few of the coffee trees from their first crop are still living and producing today! They live in a special section of the property, along with a crumbly stone wall and regal stairway.
The whole place is out of a fairytale. There are endless flowers, tropical views, and old buildings desperate to be explored. The rows of coffee trees add order to an otherwise wild place.
The combination of rich volcanic soil and moderate temperatures make for idyllic growing conditions.
Coffee trees grow and develop very quickly, but require a lot of attention. In addition to basic needs and harvesting, they must be pruned regularly in a very dramatic fashion. This helps them produce more coffee beans for future crops.
In order to grow to their full potential, the trees are cut back to almost twigs. That makes sense to me. I feel like I've been pruned that way a few times, too. Cut back, only to grow back stronger.
From the farm, we headed to St. Benedict's Church, also known as the Painted Church.
The ornate structure was built by a priest in 1899. He painted Bible scenes on the walls of church, because many local Hawaiians didn't speak English. His visual story-telling resulted in a vivid, one of a kind interior.
We sat on pews where thousands have sat before us, and I couldn't help but think of all the histories that have been changed in those worn seats. God works in such crazy ways. Sometimes it's through people, or miracles, or mountains. But sometimes it's through old painted walls and paintbrush-wielding priests.
There are still services held there. It seems to be a thriving congregation, if the well-loved state of the cemetery is any indication. There wasn't a single grave without some sort of lei or flower lovingly placed upon it.
Walking through the church, through the cemetery, I was reminded of how beauty can come from such toil and hard times. That's exactly what God does though. He uses (but doesn't cause!) pains from our histories as refinement, as ways to draw us closer, and into a beautiful place of being set free from it all.
History may repeat itself, but it can also be erased, made new, made beautiful, made fruitful. I don't think there's really anything more more freeing than that.