A couple of nights later, on the way home from St. Simons, we caught this sunset. It was very intense because of the fire raging in the Okefenokee Swamp area.
The last morning, DC and I got up at 6:00 to catch a sunrise. We hadn't had a chance to do that yet. We stood on the beach, staring east, thinking maybe the cloud cover was going to prevent our seeing it. Finally, the beautiful ball of fire began to peak over the horizon. It was 6:50, and it was worth the wait!
The full day on St. Simons Island was spent engrossed in history. The Beloved Invader was the first book Eugenia Price wrote about the island. She immersed herself in the island and its lore. Many of the people who lived there when she moved in the 1960s from Chicago were descendants of the people in the novels. Anson Dodge was a very young man of 19 when he first fell in love with the island. He was from New York and was engaged to a beautiful young woman named Ellen. She died, probably of food poisoning from unwashed grapes in India, on their honeymoon trip. Anna Gould had been in love with him from the first day she saw him. She eventually became his housekeeper. He finally realized her worth and value and love and made her his wife. They had a child, who was killed when he was thrown from a buggy and hit a catalpa tree. So sad!! They eventually opened a home for orphaned boys, but it didn't come to pass until Anson died at a very young age of 38. Anna was such an unselfish person that she honored his original desire to be buried with Ellen. They are buried in the same plot with his mother next to them. Next to his mother was the baby, then Anna on the end.
I was so busy looking at the lizard on the Resurrection Fern around Anson and Emily's grave that I neglected to get a picture of it! Go figure.
Here is Anson's mother's grave.
Anna and Anson Jr.'s graves
I was able to locate James Hamilton Couper's grave - he was James Gould's dearest and longest friend. I couldn't find others I was looking for, and didn't have time to take the tour.
I regret that we didn't get back to see the inside of the church (below as it is today). It was virtually destroyed by the Union soldiers who used it as housing during the war. They desecrated the altar when they butchered cattle on it. The remainder of the entrails and hooves and bones were still there ten years later when Horace Gould returned to the island after their forced removal from their homes (chronicled in the second book, New Moon Rising) . The soldiers also used the church furniture for firewood, when there were hundreds of trees right ouside in the woods. Anson Dodge restored the church with his inherited money, and pastored the flock until his too early death.
I distinctly remember, when we were reading the trilogy as young women, that the theme of our Redeeming God came through loud and clear. In fact, it was the one thing I remembered. When I reread the series, I kept looking for that theme. It finally was very clearly articulated in the last few pages of The Beloved Invader.
"Sometimes she (Anna) felt that everything her husband believed was based on the simple fact that God will not waste anything if we give Him a chance to redeem it. . . 'He is not only a Redeemer of our sin, but He is a Redeemer of our circumstances as well. He will not waste a single problem, a single heartache, a single tear. Our God is a Redeemer God, and He stands minute by minute before us, inviting us to let Him have the sorrow, to let Him have the pain, to let Him have the disappointment. To trust Him to make something useful, something creative of every tragedy that darkens our lives.' . . . in the haphazard of earthly life, God worked in and through the joys and tragedies, always making redemptive use of everything: not causing either joy or pain, but using them."
I LOVE these words. They resonate with me throughout everything we have gone through as a family. God is using Heather's and Kelli's situations. He's using Kev's and my story. He is using Kristen's and my story.
Kev and I will be writing Part VIII after he finishes final exams next week. It's hard to imagine that this school year is over already, but it is. Graduation for my students is a week from today. Then the cycle begins again.
I hope I am not taking too much time and space talking about this trip, but it was so meaningful for me. We'll be on Cumberland Island next time. I haven't forgotten my randomizing by Groovy Old Lady!