A few weeks back I wrote of my wife, Kathy, and me recently visiting one of our favorite Southern cities, Savannah, Ga.
Savannah is so rich in American history. Each time I visit I make new discoveries of its riches.
Founded in 1732 by James Edward Oglethorpe, it is considered America’s first planned city. Upon Oglethorpe’s foresight, the city was laid out in a series of grids allowing for wide streets and public squares. Savannah had 24 original squares, with 22 still in existence today. Interestingly, upon our last visit, the 23rd square was being reclaimed as a building once occupying its space was being demolished.
All of the squares measure approximately 200 feet (61 meters) from east to west, but they vary north to south from approximately 100 to 300 feet (91 m). Typically, each square is intersected north-south and east-west by wide, two-way streets. These squares now make up much of Savannah’s Historical District, many showcasing monuments to the men and women who played prominent roles in the founding of Savannah and the Colony of Georgia.
How the Colony of Georgia came to be is an interesting story in itself.
James Edward Oglethorpe was a British soldier, Member of Parliament, and philanthropist. As a social reformer, he hoped to resettle Britain’s worthy poor in the New World, initially focusing on those in debtors’ prisons. He and others began publicizing the idea of a new colony, to serve as a buffer between the Carolinas and Spanish Florida. South Carolina had become the most profitable of the original colonies, and Britain saw reason to protect its interests.
After being granted a charter, Oglethorpe sailed to Georgia in November 1732.
On the second morning of our visit, I found myself deeply engrossed in drinking in Savannah’s rich history as I strolled from square to square. The voices of Oglethorpe, John Wesley, Chief Moto Chi Chi, Mary Musgrove, and General Nathaniel Greene seemed to be calling out my name. The morning air was cool and still as I took a seat on a weathered park bench. There, beneath a canopy of ancient live oak trees, their long branches graced with Spanish moss that reminded me of long, grey, scraggly beards, the voices that seemed to be calling me suddenly hushed and I found a quiet solitude.
Many years ago, I heard of an old man who was resting in a rocking chair on the front porch of a country store one day. When asked what he was doing, he replied, “I’m enjoying one of life’s great pleasures.”
“And what might that be?” came the question.
“I’m ‘just ‘a sittin,’ ” he said.
So there I was in the quiet of the morning enjoying one of life’s great pleasures. I was “just ‘a sittin.’ ”
It amazing what happens when we slow down long enough to gather our thoughts. I thought of our grandchildren. The oldest three are girls. One is a three-sport athlete. On the one hand, she is sensitive and tender-hearted, and on the other, she is tough as nails.
The next one is a cheerleader and a people person. The next one plays piano and has never met a stranger. The next three are boys. One plays tee ball and youth flag-football, his signature being flaming, red curls. Next is the farmer who would spend all his waking hours on “the back forty.” The next boy is a dinosaur hunter who collects insects and toad frogs. He is twin to a sister who is 32 pounds of 5-year-old dynamite.
As I pondered each one’s uniqueness, I considered how each one’s life is unfolding like a delicate flower, and I sought blessings for each one.
And I thought of all the wonderful people I have known throughout my life. I have known many great people. Sometimes I feel I have had an unfair advantage over others because so many very fine persons have crossed my path. You know the kind to which I am referring -“salt of the earth” and “honest as the day is long.” When I recall their faces, I realize there is a “cloud of witnesses” cheering me onward.
It is almost magical what can happen when we quiet ourselves in this busy world.
May I suggest, as the Holidays come rushing at us like a “bunch of wild animals,” you set aside a little time for “just ‘a sittin’ ”?
In doing so, you might consider the words of the Apostle Paul. “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report: If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
You can thank me later.