Monday Musing

Hi Pogue,

Another flight, another airport lounge. Stockholm today and I have an hour before boarding and home. It will be nice to be home. But Stockholm’s been a blast so a good trip despite the well below 0C temperatures (we hit -18C in Helsinki allowing for the windchill factor and that’s painful!).

Here in Stockholm we toured the city and visited a selection of museums and galleries which included the Vasa Museum. In the Vasa is a national embarrassment turned into a world leading tourist attraction and a moment of history frozen for all to see. The Vasa was a 17th Century warship, then set to be the most powerful in the world, that was built in Stockholm. It was a year in the building, would out gun any other ship afloat and…it sunk. Not only did it sink, she did so in the first kilometre of her maiden voyage and in two short minutes was gone.

Three hundred years later the Swedes were able to bring her to the surface with the aid of modern technology and have spent more than 40 years restoring and preserving her. Now, housed in a museum, tourist flock to see their triumph.

A disaster turned into a triumph. I have to say it: “Power to the Swedes”.

And here’s my Monday Musing. A story can be retold and done so to very different effect. In fact, the longer the time between the original telling and the retelling the greater the opportunity for success. So let’s make this seasonal. We are some 2000 plus years from what has become the Christmas event and now we are able to tell a warm cozy heart warming tale to bring us comfort at this time of year. But we do not tell the original event, just a shadow of it. I mean, there’s no stable in the original account. Someone saw a few animals and just thought “stable” and, boom, the whole of the Christian world sends Christmas cards framed in a wooden building with hay and all the other trimmings.

Then the Three Wise Men who turn up exactly the same moment as the Shepherds who are themselves accompanied by winged angels. Well that’s the scenes I’m seeing portrayed in cards, and nativity displays and churches. But that didn’t happen. And in telling the story the world seems to have conveniently forgotten the moment when King Herod decided to stage an infanticide in an attempt to eliminate the “new born king”. I guess that’s a catastrophe that doesn’t really fit in the “peace and goodwill to all men” event we have engineered.

Stories are retold, passed on, heard differently, contextualised and interpreted and that includes the stories of our lives which we tell ourselves. The retelling can be a powerful event and conditioned to how we live today and going forward. And hindsight, who we can make our friend in this endeavour, will add colours we may never have originally seen. Today’s catastrophe with all it’s pain can, further into our lives, be turned into something positive that adds value to who we are but, like the Swedes, you decide whether to dredge up the past and write the tale afresh or leave it where it lies, out of sight and hopefully out of mind.

Whatever, feel free to have a Christmas full of well presented shepherds, fresh hay and angelic beings bringing goodwill. Herod, let’s leave him where he’s been all our lives. Forgotten. It makes for a better retelling.

Yours, wrapping up your present,


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