We've all had bad colds around here this week. Andrew started it, followed by Blake, Logan and myself. It's one of those woozy types where your head spins and you feel as if you might keel over when you walk. At least, it was that way for me. Our 4yo Blake developed a very chesty cough but didn't seem to lose any energy.
However, I've managed to get a bit of reading done. I found a fascinating passage in a book and I'll quote the author word for word.
"I often think of Abraham Lincoln as he left the Gettysburg battlefield after his address. We think today that Lincoln must have realised that this Gettysburg address would live in men's hearts but how could he possibly have known? After the long, flowery speech of Edward Everett, the orator of the day, which drew thunderous applause from the crowd, Lincoln's simple speech was received in silence. He could not know that his hearers were so moved by his message that applause would have seemed sacrilege. He could not foresee that his words one day would be cast in imperishable bronze and taught to every school child in the land. He could not know - because no-one told him."
The point in this chapter of my book was that we ought all ought to praise and congratulate anybody for anything that we perceive is good, even when we feel shy or think they'd be too great to appreciate it. While I agree wholeheartedly with this, something else struck me about this passage. And that is the fact that can't gauge the impact of our words or actions by the response we receive in the short term!
I thought of other famous people I've read about. Poor old Vincent VanGogh, who never sold a painting in his life! He left them all moulding away in his brother's garage, feeling like an amateur and a hassle for his family all his life. Only after his death was he heralded as a great artistic genius. When I was little, my parents had his painting of the sunflowers hanging in their entrance hall for years. He never even knew the acclaim he'd receive.
And one of my personal heroines, Emily Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights, also died young never knowing that her one and only novel would be canonised as one of the great literary masterpieces of the nineteenth century. The novel's reviews that she read while she was still alive were somewhat more critical and dubious than they were the following century. She never knew.
This may all sound bleak and sad, but I actually took it as a very positive thought that cheered me up. It made me think that each of us, plodding about our daily lives and trying to be creative in our own ways, never know how far-reaching our work may be in the future either! Sometimes I get a bit jaded and discouraged by what I perceive as lack of appreciation and impact, as I'm sure many of us probably do. But the thoughts of these famous heroes who lived before us helps me understand that feeling gloomy about how much recognition we're receiving are a complete and utter waste of time. We just have to keep following what we feel God had put in our hearts and forget about how it's being received.
Because we just might never know.