As she finished her breakfast of Georgia peach French toast with coffee and fruit salad, my wife decided she wanted to stay an extra day.
“Go talk to the innkeeper,” she whispered, nodding toward the kitchen.
The “Savannah Morning News” had a cover story about some bartender at City Market getting bounced for serving kids, and the photo, picturing jovial, red-faced tourists downing pints in the sunshine, struck me as a little misleading.
The innkeeper was deferential and since the room wasn’t booked for the night he gave us a good rate. When he brought the coffee again he placed a map beside my cup. He took a highlighter and traced the way – up Abercorn, to Victory, then east – to Bonaventure Cemetery.
“Bona fortuna!” he said theatrically, kissing his fingertips.
After breakfast Angie and I walked across Lafayette Square, up the stone steps and into the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. I swung open the heavy wooden door and just inside, to my right, was a life-sized statue of St. Patrick.
“I needed you a week ago,” I whispered to the statue, then, to my wife, “Remember that picture I took for the paper? Fr. Tom, with that little statue?”
“Oh, yeah,” she said. “This one’s, well, bigger.”
She thought for a second, then laughed.
“What?” I asked.
“Those beads around John Wesley’s neck,” she said. She was referring to a statue of the famous churchman that stands in Reynolds Square, near the church where he once served as pastor. During the recent Irish festivities someone, at great personal peril, must have climbed up and hung a necklace on him. Seeing him bejeweled like that reminded me of something Bryan Collier said about Wesley setting church music to the tune of pub songs.
Angie and I went halfway up the cathedral isle, knelt, prayed, then headed for the cemetery.
We parked on the back of the property, on a low bluff overlooking the Wilmington River. Spanish moss hung so low it brushed the top of the car.
We took a backpack, dropped in two bottles of water, our cell phones and a cotton poncho, and started walking.
Not far from the bluff we came upon a statue of Jesus, standing in front of a baroque, marble arch. Azaleas were blooming around him, lending a nice, purple contrast to the bone-colored concrete. A cool breeze off the river was moving the Spanish moss in languid sweeps that made Jesus appear almost to be moving. The soft folds of his tunic practically floating in the breeze.
He was leading slightly with his right shoulder, his arm crossed back over his midsection as if he were about to backhand a tennis ball. His chin was sharp and jutted slightly forward, a more triumphant pose than I was used to seeing him in.
He seemed eager, purposeful.
Angie and I sat at Jesus’ feet, sipped our water, and looked in the same direction as he, past the waxy palm leaves and ghostly moss, over the bluff. The moment became instantly sacred as the breeze carried our vision out over the sluggish, brown water, flowing to destinations unknown.
Contact Daily Journal religion editor Galen Holley at 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Galen Holley/Daily Journal