“When you come to Savannah you going to have a good time,” sings the man in the park, as he folds his palm fronds, on a bench, beneath a tree.
I have concluded that he is correct.
Spent the day strolling around rather aimlessly. As perfect a day as there could be for it: sunny, cloudless sky, warm, dry, a bit windy, though pleasantly so for walking. I stop to read a sign in the square where the man is singing and folding his palm fronds. It is a plaque to commemorate the life of Tomo Chi-Chi, a member of the Creek Indian Nation. According to the sign post, he helped the English in the founding and settlement of Georgia, and was an “indispensable friend” to them. In return he received a thirty foot tall burial marker and an historical signpost recognizing this “indispensable friendship.” Since then, the Natives have been massacred, had their land stolen from them, and been pushed onto reservations. To borrow a well used cliché, he would be rolling over in his grave if he knew the atrocities committed against his people since his death.
I’m sitting on the cathedral steps writing these words and thinking of the atrocities the church has committed in its time—from The Crusades, to the KKK, and to certain discriminatory legislative measures passed in some states very recently. I’m thinking of the atrocities that continue around the world in the name of whatever religion, or by whatever government. The whole past of humanity is steeped in violence and bloodshed. Thousands of years of it, and thousands more to come, unless we blow ourselves to ashes before then.
Just now a couple walks up the steps and the husband curses reading the sign, “NO TOURING. WORSHIP IN PROGRESS.” Yes, you ignorant halfwit, the cathedral, while being quite old, is still a cathedral, which means that services may still be held there despite its status as historical landmark. It is something more than just a name to cross off your list of “Things To Do In Savannah.” It has a life of its own. There is a community that circulates in and around and through it, like blood beating in a heart, surging through vein and artery. Just because you are not a part of it, that you are a particle foreign to the stream of bodies regular to it, does not mean that it does not exist, or not take place. Come back tomorrow, or don’t come back at all. The cathedral will still stand, indifferent, unyielding, its people still coming and going, and, likely, other tourists coming and going as well, AT THE ASSIGNED TIMES. But, the cathedral, the cathedral sees you and laughs. A knowing chuckle.
Cycling back to Alex’s, I stop at Forsyth Park to stretch out in the grass, read a bit, watch the people there—some tanning, some napping, some reading, most conversing in groups, some playing frisbee, one girl playing with a bubble wand, many sitting on benches, many more in the grass, and the consistent traversal of so many more along the central artery that bisects the park and connects Gaston Street and Park Avenue at either end. A jovial scene, with the sun shining, the grass green, the temperature fine. A fitting way to end the day’s wanders, by not wandering at all, but just sitting still, reveling in the atmosphere around me. Peace can be easy to find, when you stop looking.