Monday, July 03, 2006

The Wonders of God's Work

Lest we forget why things are as they are, take time to inventory your surroundings and witness the awe of nature blending with the elements. Have you just took time out from life and allowed yourself to be totally mesmerized with things we tend to take for granted? The first quadrant of this year found me traveling and enjoying the lay of the land. Four recent trips I took this year (2006) brought me up front and personal witnessing what God has made for us to enjoy along the way to salvation and for redeeming value. We writers are always looking for those idyllic spots of tranquility where serious and serene mesh define time and place. In February, April and again in May, it was the historic group of sea islands off the coast of Florida northward just above the Carolinas, Hilton Head (South Carolina) and St. Simon's (Georgia) that literally took turns taking my breath away with pregnant pauses and poignant precepts.

Then during the latter part of June, I tackled the majestic heights of the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee (Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge). As far as the coastal island were concerned, it was nothing to do my daily Bible study with the sun peeking out on the horizon...on the beach no less, I imagined Paul starting his day gathering the needed ammunition to shoot straight and true armed with the Word with this same setting!
Of course, I happen to know the historic value of this area, where the Gullah tradition lives on today. Oh yes, I know my history: The name, "Gullah", itself probably derives from "Angola" (and possibly from the large number of slaves who arrived from that part of Africa in the early 1800s). "Geechee" -- another name for the language and culture of black Sea Islanders -- comes from a tribal name in Liberia. Traditions, language and myth stayed longer with the coastal Carolina Gullahs, who were allowed greater latitude of self-sufficiency and were relatively isolated on the Sea Islands.

Most Beaufort slaves in the first decades of the 1800s may have been first-generation African arrivals. So it was not merely the remoteness of the Sea Islands that preserved the African culture and language influences among Gullah speakers. An exorbitant number of slaves came to South Carolina from Africa between 1804 through 1807, and approximately 14,000 of these according to Grolier's Encyclopedic Index originated from Angola, Congo, or "Congo and Angola". The newly arrived slaves breathed new life into African traditions already established on the islands. A new infusion of pidgin influences would have had a profound impact on the existing Creole language. With this bit of information firmly imbedded in my consciousness, my pride knew no limits as I walked the sacred ground where my ancestors labored and lamented against all odds for survival...And here I am some 400 years later blessed enough with the opportunity to be in the write place!A few miles to the South, there's Cumberland, Sapelo, Jekyll, and St. Simon's Islands all of which are exclusive in their own individual right, but it's the collective beauty of the whole area that allows God's penchant for bucolic beauty to shine forth.

The International Youth Empowerment Retreat, under the auspices of the Seventh Day International Ministries (Church of God) invited me as a special guest to mentor and talk to a group of youth for spiritual and literary growth. The Sea enclave, originally settled by John and Charles Wesley, held this retreat on St. Simon’s Island within the Epworth founders of the Methodist movement in 1735. I got a chance to fellowship and give a keynote-like speech on the importance of self-esteem and finding purpose to life. Four days of worship, workshops, and lectures gave youths in attendance both challenge and choices. In June another wonder of God's work unveiled itself. The Great Smokey Mountains in the vicinity of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee was next. Koinonia Worship Center ( , a non-denominational church with their charismatic Pastor, Eric H. Jones, conducted its annual marriage retreat for matrimonial couples and singles alike. Five days were spent here where a series of workshops were inherent along with a dynamic banquet that featured Evangelist and Author, Kenneth Scott who delivered a spirited sermon on familial order and the importance of prayer, devotion, and meditation. There's something about that rarified air that allows eagles to soar and elevation to define a sense of separateness seemingly from the pangs of iniquity.

We stayed in state-of-the art log cabins where privacy begat hot tubs, Jacuzzis, wrap-around porches complete with rocking chairs that I used daily to read one of many books I brought on the journey. Peaks and valleys were abundant, where winding mountain streams and riveting rivers gave rise to 'running free' carving rustic routes to champion good flow. Ah, the wonders of God's work never ceased to amaze me. He gave us awakening sunrises to meditate and start days off on the right foot; He made sure that sunsets wasn't meant to be the end of anything; Gave us reasons to expect the highs and lows of majestic mountains housing valleys and dales where rivers run free, and where precipitous mists of moisture rain supreme! A good time was had by me as I was able to give insight to distinguished gentlemen and young sophisticated ladies...I participated in the various workshops, lectured to the Kids of the Kingdom, and watched with awe as I gave homage to all the wonders that have made God's work majestic and miraculous!
Posted by Picasa

No comments: