Monday MaDnESs ~ Mourning

I returned last week from a brief trip to Savannah, Georgia to officiate at the wedding of a lovely young lady and her young man. While I was there I was struck again by the beauty of the city’s architecture seen through the stone buildings and lacy iron balcony’s. The city is criss-crossed with streets lined with trees that are covered with Spanish moss and interspersed with quaint neighborhood parks. There is a distinctive awareness of the history, and a feeling of timelessness that pervades your senses with every moment you drive the quiet streets and each step you take along the shaded sidewalks.

While driving around on the back streets, other memories came to my mind. In 1998 I chaperoned an 8th grade field trip with my daughter and her friends. This young bride was one of those friends. So were several of the wedding guests! 🙂 One of my favorite memories of Savannah comes from that particular field trip and the historic tour we took on the last night of our visit. 

Now, put your mind in a Dr. Suessical place and imagine this: 160(+/-) fourteen -year old hormonal teenagers, some away from home – in a new city, on an overnight field trip – for the FIRST TIME! Also imagine the fun-loving teachers (aka. “Saints”!) that loved on those kids while handing out appropriate discipline, giving freedom, and remaining in control at all times. And a tour director very aware of schedules and the need to fulfill the contractual obligations of his company. Now, add to this mix, a practical joker of a chaperone willing to forget that she is an adult and somebodies mother (can you guess who that WAS!?! :D)

If you have all of that pictured in your mind, go with me here. It’s night, around 11:00PM, and over the past two days we have toured Fort Pulaski and the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum, taken a riverboat lunch cruise and viewed the historic Railroad Roundhouse Museum, toured the Tybee Island Marine Science Center and even splashed in the Atlantic Ocean. Kids are overtired (and therefore overexcited!) and the adults are simply thinking about getting some sleep. But it is time to do one last special lesson for this trip – a final walking tour of the historic area to view the period architecture and learn a little more of the history of the beautiful city. Especially – the Haunted history!!! (For those of you who know me personally, can you hazard a guess as to where this might be going?)

So, we’re off. I’ve got my little group of truants, I mean, students and we are walking amongst the other chaperones and their truants, I mean – students. Personally I could hardly hear a word our guide was saying. Most of my charges were walking back and forth whispering things to me and I was whispering back to them. I do recall hearing things like, “Shhh” and “Hush” from several of the more conformist adults in the group. Then we entered the historic cemetery.

We all quieted down to hear the tales of poor lovers who had died and whose ghosts roamed the place still looking for each other. And the tales of grave robbers who had fallen into tombs and had never escaped. And in this particular “haunted” cemetery there is a marker that pulls at the hearts of all who visit it. It marks little Gracie Watson’s grave. Gracie died at the age of 6 from pneumonia. The tale surrounding her death is that some visitors have experienced hearing the sounds of a female crying, and have sensed a high level of sadness in the air. Many have seen the statute and have actually observed tears that resemble blood falling from the eyes of the statue. Okay.

Having just heard this tale, a number of the adults are walking around acting quite solemn. The truants, I mean – students, are anxious and wary, observing the behavior of the adults and the only thing I can think is, “This is ridiculous!” Alongside me comes one of my charges and suggests that, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could see a real ghost?” Lesson time :), as I witness to her that our bodies are simply shells for us here on earth and God has something so much better for us than these pieces of flesh subject to pain, sickness and death. Lisa gets this awesome idea – let’s show everyone else what that means! Moments later, she has quietly slipped away and has gone over to one of the graves and laid down upon it. As the group approaches the area …

she sits up and says…,

“Hello, and welcome!”

I don’t know about you, but I sure hope those are the words I hear some day from my Lord and Savior instead of the screams of fright I heard that night all those years ago from some of the adults and students in that cemetery!

child was walking through a cemetery one day with his granddad. Puzzled by the gravestones he asked his granddad about them. His granddad said, “These people were living in those houses. Then God called them and now they’re living in God’s house.” The boy said, “And this is where they left their clothes.” What better way could we explain passing from this life to the next?


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