Friday, June 20, 2008

Jamestown Memories

It's been one year since my incredible time at the Jamestown Quadricentennial, put on by the ministry of Vision Forum.

I’ve tried to recall a single memory that played such a significant part in my mind, but all of the happiness I felt comes running back to me, swirling my thoughts like a whirlwind.

Happy fathers, blessed sons, joyful mothers, sweet daughters, little children, elderly grandparents – they were all there.

At the time I almost wondered if the locals of the historical towns we visited: Yorktown, Williamsburg and Jamestown, were looking at us and wondering, “What has happened? Did aliens land from another planet and did the news forget to tell us? What is with these 14-passenger vans and other vehicles suddenly appearing from nowhere smeared all over with strange messages like, ‘‘Know Boudinot?’’ and ‘‘Honk 4 JT400!”

Whether or not they were actually thinking those things, I’m sure they had to have been wondering something. Indeed, I found it hard to believe that I hadn’t traveled to ‘homeschooling country’ or some other such place. You could see them a mile off, holding hands and crossing streets, walking beside you and taking notes or pictures and laughing and playing on the Williamsburg green. You could see them, you could hear them; you could almost smell them. Families. Everywhere. Something had happened.

I remember the very first night, the grand opening at the Hampton Convention Center. I recall the breathless excitement clearly exhibited by the eager crowd outside the closed doors. Everyone spoke, laughed; murmured. A violin could be heard in the background, nearly, but not quite drowned out by the rumble of the people.

I smiled. It was the definition of grand in a real, live, sensible way.

I remember the thick and spreading elation as the crowd poured in through the open doors and took their seats in quick anticipation. The soft strum of the maidens’ hands on a harp, the thrill as Mr. Doug Phillips took the stage to address the attendees, and the joy of watching the speakers ascend with a powerful message – it’s all coming back to me, as if I was there all over again.

I remember wanting to catch the week in my hands as it flew by, and wishing that I could soak in every single moment and keep it with me always. I feel the wave of exhilaration once more as I recall walking over the ground that Captain Newport, John Smith and Pocahontas had trampled on four-hundred years before. I stand in the unseen footsteps of moccasins and boots from centuries past. I meditate in the shadows of monuments, tall and marvelous, and feel the presence of the Almighty – the same Almighty whose presence they felt so strongly.

Shaking the hand of John Tyler’s grandson, meeting and laughing with the impersonators of Theodore Roosevelt, John Tyler, Patrick Henry, John Smith and Lady Rebecca are memories that will always be with me, instantly coming to mind at the mention of the word, ‘Jamestown.’ I remember laughing at the weight of my notebook, filled to the brim with the many notes I carried to the sessions, and laughing at my sister’s which was stuffed with the autographs of the many godly leaders we met there.

The balloon rides, the boat rides, the historical tours, the walks along the James River – it all evoked the stirring of a part of me that had never been awakened before. The sensation of leaping to my feet with a crowd enthusiastic over the John Smith award given to the very worthy Christopher Klicka, the tears that I shed when Miss Melanie Thomas won the Jamestown 400 treasure for the glory of God and her family – I will watch these scenes in my mind over and over again during the course of my lifetime.

And the parade – the marching, shouting, singing, laughing, musing, smiling rows of children and young adults (some older ones, too) walking through the woods of Fort Pocahontas, that classic civil war battle site, and throwing their hats, raising their swords and spears, waving flowers and flags to the beautiful music of fife and drum that led them – that led us – onward. I remember, and my heart cries with triumph.

When I have at last begun to think I have very well recalled and covered the most prominent of my memories, another grabs my attention and pulls at my heart with vigor.

The children’s memorial.

Nothing can begin to describe what went on in the beating hearts of the crowd at that moment. Little children sat on their daddies’ shoulders, peering over the heads of strong sons and beautiful daughters, and even the littlest of these were silent with awe, as if they understood the greatness of the monument about to be dedicated.

Because, after all, it was for them.

I still feel the tingling thrill and the tears that stood still in my eyes as Mr. Harrison Tyler, the descendant of Pocahontas and John Rolfe and the grandson of John Tyler, stepped down the long path through the crowd and set the time capsule into its position by the monument – underneath a stone that read 2107. Thousands of eyes watched it be set in it; thousands of hearts beat. Cameras flashed.

It was done. The founding of the greatest nation in the world and the great Providence of its God had not been forgotten in our generation. It would be remembered, and we, by causing a monument to be erected, were setting a precedence for the generations beyond us – these children’s children; my children’s children.

It will never be forgotten. The history of the four hundredth anniversary of Jamestown and a new country, eventually to be the United States of America, is the great story of an Almighty God and of His tender mercies. And this story, experienced and felt like never before, will live on in the hearts of those grandparents, parents, young adults and children forever.

For me, I must add that a part of me that had never been lived before flung open its doors and lived in a way that left me changed, strengthened, and envisioned for eternity.

I will never be the same.

Soli deo Gloria!


Lady Ruth Ann said...

Wow Sarah, I heard a lot about the Jamestown 400 event through blogs and of course Vision Forum. It sounded like a wonderful time, and I would have loved to be there. You wrote about it so beautifully - making me even able to imagine the events you described. :) Glory be to God! :) I am very encouraged by the work and ministries of Vision Forum.

Glad you could go!!

~ Ruth Ann

rbrgoats said...

Hi Sarah,
Just got your comment!!! I've been thinking about you all too... Yes, I have been looking at your blog everynow and then, though we've been really busy this last week---organizing & dejunking our home...

It's great you're going to DC!!! I'll be praying for you!

Love ya lots!
Sarah P. :D

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an awesome experience. You write very beautifully...

God bless you.