Changing Perspectives: Writing Spaces

When I visited San Antonio, Texas in February, the kitchen in the VRBO I’d rented had a counter with some mid-century modern stools that were heavenly for writing. They had a bottom-cradling seat, a buttery leatherish look and feel, and sturdy feet. I sat in that space and wrote in those early morning hours, savoring coffee and quiet solitude – just me and my thoughts.

I wish I had a writing space like this at home, I thought.

When I visited the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina in April, I stayed directly across the hall from the rooms where F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed (his room overlooked the front doors, reportedly so he could see the fashionable women arriving and decide whether to go downstairs and meet them). His writing desk, which has been moved downstairs for display, was of solid oak and of perfect size.

I wish I had a writing desk like that at home, I thought.

Actual writing desk of F. Scott Fitzgerald at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina

What I have is a sage green living room chair and an undersized lap desk – the space where I generally write, which is driven more strongly by the hours I keep; most days, I’m up long before daybreak trying to avoid disturbing my still-sleeping husband and our dogs.

All of these writing spaces have inspired my thinking. I once wrote about famous authors and their affinity for certain fountain pens, which prompted my thinking about writers and their spaces. I did some research and have linked some articles in the sections below.

In his book On Writing, Stephen King says to put the desk in the corner of the room and turn so you’re facing the wall to avoid all distractions (he once wrote on a makeshift desk in a laundry room). That wasn’t the case with Mark Twain; he wrote in his own study, an octagon shape with windows, built for him by his sister-in-law because she didn’t like the pipe smoke in her parents’ house when he summered with them.

Lauretta Hannon, author of The Cracker Queen, has her own writing she-shed in Rome, Georgia. She also hosts writing sessions in The Labyrinth, an outdoor amphitheater in Rome, inviting guests to sit on the tiered seating levels to write.

Other writers, too, had small spaces designed specifically for writing. Roald Dahl had his own writing hut and sat in a comfortable chair with a board propped across the armpieces.

Like F. Scott Fitzgerald at the Grove Park Inn, J. K. Rowling also stayed in a hotel as she completed one of her books.

Edward Albee had quite the rolltop desk.

Ben Franklin reportedly wrote in the bathtub, and so did Agatha Christie, as she ate apples.

These varied perspectives of writing in different places fascinate me. The visual noise of other places is appealing; I find my sensory awareness elevated in places with which I’m unfamiliar. As I write this post, I’m sitting at the table inside our camper on Site 8 at Dames Ferry Campground in Juliette, Georgia – the lake is out the rear living window, and I see pedal boats, kayaks, swimmers with neon colored flotation devices so they don’t get hit by boats, and fishing boats all making waves on the lake. Out my table window, there’s a boy on a motorized scooter driving past a neighboring camper where a family is seated around the campfire at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time on this Sunday afternoon on Memorial Day weekend. It looks like three generations of women are walking past in their shorts and swimsuits, towels hanging from their arms, hair wet as they head in from the lake. The couple camping two sites down from us is driving by on an afternoon golf cart ride with their two little white Westies taking it all in from the back of the cart. And there are two boys with remote controlled cars jumping the speed humps at high speed right down the way.

Swimmers on Lake Juliette

My sage green chair offers none of these sights, but instead the comfort of writing at home – it’s predictable, it’s comfortable, it’s stationary and unchanging. Of all the places in this world that are growing increasingly unsafe, my green sage chair feels safe. But getting out into different places and writing from different locations breaks the monontony and keeps daily writing exciting.

My theme for June is changing perspectives, and I will challenge myself to get out of my chair and write from at least 15 different locations throughout the month. What’s the most unexpected or unique place where you have written, and what are your favorite writing spots? I’m all ears!

Luke 5:16 

But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

Special thanks to Slice of Life!

Memorial Day

In recent weeks, I’ve been in schools testing students. In our Pre-K building, there is a wall of shadowboxes dedicated to those from Pike County, Georgia who died serving our country. I wasn’t sure why at the time, but I felt the familiar nudge to take photos of each of these boxes – perhaps to dig deeper into the lives of these fallen soldiers at a later time. Today, I realize that I needed these reminders now more than ever before – that there is a life and a story beneath each headstone in our nation’s military cemeteries. One of those, the story of Robert Eugene Oxford, is shared in a 2017 post. You can read it here.

These heroes all have stories. They were each somebody’s precious baby who lost their first tooth and skinned their knee – maybe all in the same week. They decided to serve their country, got a buzz cut, and polished their shoes. They sacrificed their own lives so that we could enjoy freedom.

I can only imagine what they would think if we offered a hand into their graves to bring them back for a week to see how we have managed their sacrifice. Have we been good stewards of their investment in our country?

Something to think about as we watch the news and wonder.

On this Memorial Day, I reflect on the sacrifices and selfless love of these men from Pike County, Georgia who served the United States of America and gave their lives. I’ll listen to Lee Greenwood’s Proud to Be An American this afternoon as we cook out at a state park campground in Juliette, Georgia. And I’ll remember that while we have much to talk about as a nation on a battlefield all its own, I’m still one very proud American, because these brave men and others like them were part of making it happen.

I must also give a special thanks to Todd Child, a former Teacher of the Year in Pike County who is retiring this year. His tireless efforts in honoring those who have served, along with his research, have helped make this memorial wall possible through the American Legion.

John G. McClendon, 1893-1918
Roswell Hooten, 1899-1918
Leon Davis, 1895-1918
Vernon Slade, 1893-1918
Lawrence Sullivan (?-1918) and Pierre Sullivan (1892-1917)
Flag to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of WW1, flown on the courthouse square
Herman Davis, 1893-1918
Solon Self, 1889-1918
Arthur Ballard, 1897-1918
Henry O’Neal, 1890-1918
William Bankston, 1895-1918
Green Blackmon, 1896-1918
Willie King, 1937-1969
Perry Story, 1913-1945

Virgil Middlebrooks, 1924-1947
Marion Smoot, 1921-1942
Malcolm Carter, 1919-1942
David Ledford, 1918-1942
Joel Matthews, 1915-1944
Marvin Adkerson, 1925-1944
Tilton Gooden, 1924-1944
Johnnie Alexander, 1929-1952
Ralph Bishop, 1926-1945
Earl Coggin, 1927-1950
Lonnie Silver, 1947-1967
William Gwyn, 1843-1896
Glenn McCuaig, 1945-1967
Ben Scott, 1897-1918
Thomas Slade, 1851-1892
James Harris, 1947-1966
Charlie Tidwell, 1925-
Robert Oxford, 1919-1944
I had the privilege of being at the ceremony when Robert Oxford’s remains were returned to Pike County and laid to rest in Concord, Georgia. What a day this was! More of the story is in a previous post, linked above.

Ephesians 6:12 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

On Lake Juliette

Morning fishermen on Lake Juliette

Morning fishermen

Casting lines before sunrise

Hungry for a bite 

Captain Ollie on the Gypsy Soul

High noon dog paddlers

Captain Ollie leads the way

in his Nemo vest

Father/Son sunset paddle

Sunset kayakers

father/son adventure quest

peaceful solitude

1 Timothy 3:4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.

Vanishing Slam Books

In the 1970s in my Georgia town, slam books were all the rage. Everyone, and I mean everyone, had at least one slam book making the rounds at school.

To make a slam book, you took a stack of lined paper and put it between two pages of construction paper. Then you’d take a Magic Marker and title it (Your Name)’s Slam Book in your fanciest handwriting on the front cover, and you’d number the first page from 1-25 down the left margin as if you were getting ready to take a 25-word spelling test. At the top, you’d write Sign In.

Then, you’d ask for information in the top space on each page. Things like Phone Number and Address. You’d ask Do you have a girlfried/boyfriend? If so, who? And then you’d ask things like Favorite Movie and Favorite Song. Sometimes you’d ask pressing questions, and sometimes you knew what they meant or sometimes you didn’t. Like when you wrote Have you ever been “on the pill?” thinking you were asking if someone had ever taken dangerous drugs.

People would sign their name by a number on the first page and then answer every question throughout the book by their sign-in number.

Slam book Sample page

These were the social media precursors of our day. The goal was to have multiple slam books of your own for others to sign and give back to you floating around out there, and to have several slam books stuck in your bookbag to sign during class, pass around, and give back to others. The fun was in reading all the answers and trying to come up with fresh, new questions that others had not thought to ask.

Like being “on the pill.” That was a fresh and new question. And your friends laughed about that and everyone came up with all these clever responses:

14. I’ll never tell and 2. Wouldn’t you like to know? and 6. Who would ask this?

And then that one girl who’d had a baby in 7th grade wrote

10. Yes, I am

And then all the slam books in the school were confiscated and banned, and no one was allowed to have them at school anymore.

They interfered with instruction and in the days before caller ID and emergency services number identification, led to fire trucks being called to several students’ home addresses as pranks when families were home watching The Brady Bunch and Match Game with no smoke in sight except for the parents’ fashionable cigarettes swirling up from their heavy glass ashtrays.

So the days of the deep, dark secrets of 1970s Slam Books lasted for a season and then suddenly vanished, never to be missed. Like those angel wings we all sported in the 1970s and the bottlecap buttons that we all wore covering our denim jackets in the 1980s and the Bo Derek cornrow braids we hoped would make us a perfect “10”….

Luke 12:3 

Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Drifting Out to Sea……

I’ve never been so relieved over a dog I didn’t know as I was in the Cracker Barrel in Dublin, Georgia decades after I first became concerned about her fate.

My husband and I had created a campfire playlist the previous weekend, and one of the songs I’d chosen was Shannon by Henry Gross, which was released in 1976. It’s a song I’d half-winced at adding, but I’ve always loved the tune and the passion of the voice. All my life, it has been a trainwreck song – one that holds you with fierce abandon while you squirm and fight off tears as you listen.

I’d always heard that the song was about the singer’s dog who had fallen off a sailboat and drowned, and was now “drifting out to sea.” My heart has ached through all these years, thinking that this poor Irish Setter named Shannon had been doing what she’d loved in her role as the first mate on this vessel but had slipped and fallen into the waters, disappearing before anyone even realized she was missing.

I’ve been on that boat a hundred times in my mind, searching frantically for this dog, wondering if a shark had eaten her or if she’d been wave-drowned and folded into the depths.

I went searching for a picture of this dog, only to find that this was one of those rumors I’d always heard and had never taken the time to verify. Turns out, the dog was not Henry Gross’s dog at all, but an Irish setter named Shannon belonging to Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, with whom Gross had played a time or two. She’d not drowned, but had been hit by a car. Ironically, though, Gross had also owned a dog named Shannon.

And so I celebrated right there in the Cracker Barrel over breakfast that Shannon did not panic in the water or dogpaddle for hours on end and succumb to drowning from fatigue. I think that most of all, I’m finally satisfied that there was closure for her family…….and now I can listen to the song with a happier sad heart around the campfire.

Proverbs 20:5 

The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.

Biblical History Center Part 3 of 3: Plants and Herbs

Today’s post concludes the 3-part blog post on my visit to The Biblical History Center in LaGrange, Georgia. As we’d strolled the archaeological gardens of the Biblical History Center, I noticed scriptural placards in front of several plants and herbs. Since my sister-in-law recently switched to a functional medicine doctor and is researching ways to be more targeted in using plants and herbs in her diet to take a more natural approach to her health, I took a stroll back through the gardens with the purpose of exploring what was planted there to note any scriptural references to the plants in the garden so that I could share them with her. Some had scriptures – others didn’t, but I found it all so fascinating to see the scripture-based plants. As she sat at her lake house posting on Facebook that she was exploring her new herbal medicine book, I was out admiring the plants that she was reading about on her porch swing that same day.

I’ve placed the Bible verses under each picture with a scriptural reference for today’s post.

This was the pond in front of the goat hair tent. Koi fish swam through the water lilies in this little pond, and it was captivating to watch them loving their environment so much.
Bulrushes and Papyrus – Exodus 2:3: New International Version Describes putting Moses in the Nile River to save him from certain death.
But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.
John 15: 1-8: The Vine and the Branches
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 19:29: John 19:29 – A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked… 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
From the Berean Study Bible – Cedar of Lebanon, Psalm 92:13 –

12The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14In old age they will still bear fruit; healthy and green they will remain,…
Italian Cyprus tree
John 19:29: 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.
Exodus 12:8: New International Version
That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.
Deuteronomy 8:7-8: For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey;
Isaiah 28:27: Berean Study Bible
Surely caraway is not threshed with a sledge, and the wheel of a cart is not rolled over the cumin. But caraway is beaten out with a stick, and cumin with a rod.
Fig Tree Matthew 21:88-19: 18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
Hosea 14:6 – Berean Study Bible
His shoots will sprout, and his splendor will be like the olive tree, his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.

If these plants interest you, there are many more links to exploring the spiritual symbolism and uses of plants in the Bible.

Genesis 1:12 

The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Biblical History Center Part 2 of 3: The Biblical Meal

Our tour of the Biblical History Center in LaGrange, Georgia began with a 90-minute tour of the Biblical Archaeological Garden, described in yesterday’s blog post. The second half of the three-hour tour began when we came in from the archaeological garden and artifact center and entered the room to partake in the Biblical meal. Up until this time, I’d only ever considered a Biblical meal as either The Lord’s Supper or a plate of grilled salmon sprinkled with dill and a couple of slices of Ezekiel bread.

We moved around the U-shaped table to be seated in front of our plates, very close to those seated to our right and left. Our docent, Greg, a retired teacher who volunteers at the center, began by explaining the high seating and the low seating. The host and most highly seated person was positioned in the second seat at the top of the right side of the U shaped table, and the servants were seated in the bottom middle of the U, having to make their way past everyone as they left their seats to go and get more food to serve as people needed it. One thing they didn’t have was cutlery or napkins – they pretty much used their hands to eat, and hands or sleeves to wipe their mouths. (Georgia Law requires The Biblical History Center to provide diners with a napkin, but we learned to use the leavened bread as our spoon).

The host’s job was to keep the conversation moving and be sure that everyone was happy. The low seating was at the top of the left hand side of the U, which is where Peter sat during the last supper.

Can you see the candles in the corners? They sell them here, and I loved them. They are flat pottery, you pour olive oil in them and a clean mop string as a wick, and light the candle. It burns low and cleanly as you eat a meal.

Greg showed us The Last Supper by DaVinci and explained how it was a beautiful painting but not exactly aligned with the cultural norms of the day.

He passed with a picture of a more accurate rendering of the way things most likely actually happened.

Blessing of the Bitter Herb

As we began eating, he blessed our drink (water or grape juice – our choice) as we held our cups upward, and then took a tiny sip. Next came the leavened bread, and he blessed this before we took a bite. The bitter herb was also blessed (above) , after we took a slice of radish and dipped it twice in a bowl of salt water. Bitter herb was eaten to remind us that life, too, has some bitter times. Where today we say one blessing at the start of our meal, in Biblical days there were multiple prayers – said for different foods, including the soup.

While we were enjoying the food, Greg climbed up on a bed, reclined on his left side, and demonstrated how Jewish people ate during these times. They ate lying down and were required to eat at least once a year this way, using their right hand to eat even if they were left-handed, since the left hand was the personal cleaning hand and would not have been used to consume food. If you were a southpaw in those days, you just did the best you could with your non-dominant hand.

The lentil soup was served – Esau’s favorite, apparently. We had black and green olives, spinach dip, grapes, and hummus. There was also an interesting apple sauce (Flodni) that tasted like apple butter with applesauce mixed in, and then had additions of raisins, spices, and nuts. It was tasty and could be spread on the bread. Chicken was also a part of the meal, which could be rolled into the bread. Boiled eggs were served, although the more authentic way that Jewish people would have eaten their eggs was by baking or roasting them. People of Biblical times did not indulge in large meals, but instead ate what they needed in small portions to keep themselves nourished.

Throughout the entire meal, Greg was giving an account of events leading up to the crucifixion, the placement of Peter’s seating at the low end, the seating of Judas at the high end, (despite Jesus’ knowing all the while that Judas would betray him in the end), the probable feelings of those around the table, the fishing and empty nets after Jesus returned, and Jesus returning and cooking breakfast after the nets were made full from casting them off the other side of the boat.

We left the Biblical History Center with full stomachs, full heads, and full hearts from this amazing place that had been originally destined for Houston or Dallas but thankfully came to LaGrange because the Callaways (of Callaway Gardens) are located about twenty miles east in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Now we know that there is so much more to a Biblical meal than communion or our proverbial bag of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 4:9) bread (wait, does a proverbial saying apply when it originates in another book of the Bible besides Proverbs?).

If you’re ever in the neighborhood, don’t miss this experience. Our next quest to replace our empty bottle of elderberry will be to Kentucky so that we can stop by and check out the Ark Experience and Creation Museum.

Please come back for tomorrow’s post – the third and final part of the Biblical History Center blog post series will feature the historical and scriptural plants and herbs of the archaeological garden.

Ezekiel 4:9 NKJV
“Also take for yourself wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt; put them into one vessel, and make bread of them for yourself. During the number of days that you lie on your side, three hundred and ninety days, you shall eat it.

Biblical History Center Part 1 of 3: Archaeological Garden Tour

Water urns at a well

I have a writing friend in Idaho who recently turned a trip of getting her new eyeglasses into an adventure by visiting Red Butte Gardens in Utah on her outing to pick them up.  I commented on her Facebook post recently and admire her ability to seek fun in the ordinary stuff.  She inspires me to do the same.

So when we ran out of elderberry on Friday night, I told my husband that it would be our weekend mission to replace the empty bottle -we set it out on the counter so we wouldn’t forget it when we went to town.  

When I rose early to do my writing, I saw the empty bottle and thought of my Idaho friend, of turning our day into a more fantastic adventure than a simple errand.  This drove my spur-of-the-moment decision to wake my husband, get showered and dressed, and drive an hour west to the Biblical History Center in LaGrange, Georgia.  I wasn’t certain, but it appeared that there may be tickets for the 10 a.m. Archaeological Garden Tour and Meal.  

A group from Alabama had come that day and every seat had been booked, but four people scheduled to be on the tour were sick and could not make the trip – which left spots for us and one other couple in line hoping to buy tickets.  And so began a delightful day of learning, which sparked this three-part series on our Biblical History Center experience.

Weaving loom a young girl would use to weave panels of goat hair tents

We met our docent, Greg, a retired teacher who dressed in the clothing of Biblical times and took us into the classroom to talk a little about the schedule of the day before proceeding to the goat hair tent, where the men sat on the man cave side of the tent house and the women sat on the family room side, separated by colorful woven panels.  My husband was fascinated by the way that the tent worked – where we get five feet of rain on average where we live in Georgia, the arid area of the tentdwellers in the Middle East received 21 inches per year; as the rain fell on the tent top, the goat hair would swell, keeping the rain out. As it dried, the porous opening allowed sunlight and air to come through to cool the tent like an Old Testament HVAC system.

The man cave side of the goat hair tent, separated from the family room by the colorful blankets

We learned that young girls would begin weaving long thin sections of panels of goat hair they would eventually weave into a wider covering to become a tent and ultimately become her home once she married.  She’d begin the process around the age of 8 or 10, and by the time she finished a few years later, her father would raise a flag to let others know that there was an eligible young woman ready to be married.  The actual tent we sat in had been purchased from a family in the Middle East so that its authenticity was evident to visitors.  

Our docent, Greg, describes the life of shepherds in Biblical times

From there, we moved around the garden and learned about the life of the shepherds and the ways that they would separate the sheep from the goats.  We found it delightful that the sheep would follow their master’s voice as the shepherds sang and went into the fields and then back home again.  Shepherds dwelt in a cave, taking turns keeping watch over their animals as others slept and ate in the caves.  These caves were built to stay at an even temperature of 69-71 degrees – cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  They placed Biblical barbed wire (thorny branches) around the walls to dissuade predators from attacking their flocks.  

Old Testament Tomb (they make the point several times that the bones – which look real – are not real)

Greg explained the Bosom of Abraham in the tomb section of the garden – – those deceased who would sleep with their fathers in death.  He explained that in Old Testament times, the bodies of the Jewish people were not embalmed but were wrapped in cloth and laid in a tomb – sometimes in a sarcophagus, but most often on a shelf.  On this shelf, the rodents and bacteria and insects would do the job of turning the body to bones over the course of about a year.  The bones could then be placed into an ossuary, a small box that needed to be only as long as the femur and wide as the skull; all the other smaller bones would then be collected and placed into the ossuary and stored in the family tomb. 

New Testament Tomb

In New Testament times, the tombs had large rocks over the door, whereas in Old Testament times, the tombs were more open.  

We moved to the place of crucifixion, where a tree had become the cross.  Greg went into great detail about the suffering of crucifixion and the process of dying – which often took about six hours to suffer to the point of death.  We learned that some who were dying on the cross could raise themselves enough to take in more breaths and live longer – both a blessing and a curse, as the suffering was prolonged along with life. Not everyone died in the first day – some held on for several days.

Our docent, Greg, explaining the significance of olive oil and how it was extracted in ancient times

We learned about the process of pressing oil from olives, which went through multiple rock pressing processes – – to get the firstfruits, which were taken to the temple as tithes, to get the oil for foods and medicines, and to get the dregs, which were used as oil to light candles and to make soap.  

Replica of a Patriarchal Biblical Family’s home

Where the daughters became women who wove starter home tents and became part of the husband’s family, the sons generally remained with their families and brought their own wives on board, building rooms onto the family home as their own families expanded.  

Urns and pouring jugs in the Biblical home

In the artifact room, we were not permitted to take photographs, but there were over 250 authentic artifacts dating back to Biblical times in this section, including ancient tools, weaving loom weights, mortars and pestles, vases and containers of various sizes and shapes, and all sorts of anchors and fishing artifacts.  The room housing these items had to be built to be “everything-proof” – fireproof, tornadoproof, floodproof – and remains at a constant temperature.  

We peeked into the kids’ archaeological dig area, and what an experience this is for children! Although we did not go in to do any digging and there were no children present at the time to observe, this sensory experience helps children understand how we have come to have artifacts that teach us about history.

Once we finished the 90-minute tour of the gardens, we entered the Biblical meal room.  We smelled it long before we saw it.  In tomorrow’s post, I will share Part 2 of this 3-part blog series on The Biblical History Center: The Biblical Meal.

1 Timothy 4:13 

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

With Special Thanks to Slice of Life

Cemetery QR Codes

The Allman Brothers Band plot

On the way home from meeting my brother in Dublin, Georgia at the Cracker Barrel for a Saturday morning brunch to take him his childhood bedroom furniture of cherrywood given to him by our grandfather, we stopped at the Macon graveyard.  The main historic one is technically called the Rose Hill Cemetery, but it borders others nearby, making it feel like one enormous eternal sleepover of resting dead.

Little Martha, Rose Hill Cemetery, May 2022

On the way down, I’d quipped, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the Macon Graveyard.  We should stop by on our way home if it’s not raining.”  I was thinking of my camera in the back seat, how I’d brought it along just in case today turned out to be the day I felt like shopping for a zoom lens for an upcoming trip.  

I asked if he’d ever been.  

“I’ve never even heard of it,” he told me.  

“We have to change that today.  It’s where Greg Allman is buried.”  A few years back when he died, Cher and other music superstars had all gathered here to lay their loved one to rest.  

Bird on a headstone, Rose Hill Cemetery, May 2022

I love walking through graveyards.  It’s not really as much of a morbid fascination as it is a way of reminding myself that these people were once breathing the air I’m breathing, living their days pursuing dreams, and then it all came to an end in one moment.  As it will for all of us.  Walks through places like these can spark a desire in us to live each day to the fullest, to seek peace in relationships and allow pride to be set aside as we move toward our marks – to regain focus on what really matters. Or to maybe even find the perfect headstone for ourselves when we die, like that open book headstone that blankets two people.

Open book headstone

What I’ve always wished was on every headstone was a QR Code that would let me scan it and come to know the person resting there beneath my feet.  Like really see them in the flesh, smiling as they graduated school full of hope, then at the altar getting married, cradling infants years later, becoming grandparents, celebrating golden anniversaries and celebrating other milestones.  I want to know their hobbies and what they did while they lived – to know their favorite books and favorite songs, the unique footprint they made here.  A way to bring every graveyard to life and keep the spirits of the dead alive might be as simple as attaching to the QR Codes the funeral Powerpoints that scroll as people are waiting in lines to speak words of comfort to grieving families.

Before we’d arrived, I turned on my hotspot driving down I-16 and did a little research on the Allman Brothers Band, and Little Martha and the Bond Monument and all the cemetery places associated with their music.  Someone had posted driving directions to get to these plots from the front gate, so I navigated as my husband drove.  We parked and met up with some motorcyclists with fingerless leather gloves paying their respects to the members of the band, and I took their picture for them.  They let us snap a picture of their map that would help us locate the other places to see.  

Biker dude in his fingerless leather gloves, holding a map for me to photograph

On the way home, we also stopped at the grave of Ronnie Hammond, lead singer of The Atlanta Rhythm Section, who is buried by his wife in Forsyth, Georgia in Monroe Memorial Cemetery.  I just wonder how many people walk graves each day all across this country, not really knowing those buried in these sacred spaces.  I wished that we could have scanned a QR Code that would have given us some pictures of Ronnie, a few clips of his music, and maybe even a music video to see him alive and in person before he crossed the finish line.  

Maybe someday in the not too distant future, cemetery QR Codes will be a thing.  If I were one of those prophetic science fiction writers, I might even predict gravestones of the future not with built-in screens but with those kinds that shine up off the headstone like laser-light and start playing messages from the dearly deceased just like the lights in the frozen food section that come on when shoppers get within feet of the cases of frozen pizzas or vegetables.  

And maybe those who’d known the end was approaching would have special messages that encouraged us to live every day like it’s our last.  

Grave of Ronnie Hammond, Forsyth, Ga, May 2022

Ecclesiastes 9:5 

For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.

Keeping Bahamian Secrets

Our ship had come into the port of Nassau in the Bahamas, where we’d been on a Christmas cruise with our friends as they cruised for the first time ever. We’d decided earlier that year to make Christmas about an experience and not about adding things to gather dust or end up in our attic museums.

We were making our way to the world famous straw market when a little boy, maybe around nine or ten years old, approached my friend, holding two identical wooden carved turtles with bauble heads and tails – one in each hand.

“Hey, pretty lady, you like to buy turtle?” he asked.

I saw the smile flash across her face, and the quick concern as she realized he was all alone without an adult in sight.

“I don’t know. Tell me about your turtles,” she said, looking around for a parent somewhere nearby.

“They’re ten dollar, but today I sell to you for five, but don’t tell my fodder if you see him.”

She drew near, in secrecy, looking closely at each turtle, considering which one to buy. One, it turned out, had a broken bauble tail. She bought the working one for a mere “five dollar.”

The kid smiled a wide, white-toothy smile, proud of his sale. We saw him glance over his shoulder toward the corner of a building.

“Okay, now, before you go running off, you might better show me which one is your father so I don’t go telling him about the deal,” she added.

Clearly, this took the kid by surprise. He hadn’t expected such clever detective skills from his turtle customer.

He thought for a moment, then pointed at the corner of the building to our left and whispered, “There he is.”

She waved at the kid’s fodder, and we resumed walking toward the straw market, a fresh five dollar dent in her wallet.

Carved Coconut bauble head and tail turtle

Ecclesiastes 1:7 

All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.