I checked out the local park and ballfield. Nothing, not a soul outside anywhere. While I wasn’t interested in the usual Fourth of July rituals, I did want to speak with people, get an idea of what was on their minds. In Lansing it was apparently sleep.
On the porch of the mercantile store were benches and populating those benches were a group of older men. They appeared to be standard issue southern gentlemen so I waited for a break in their conversation- which was a while coming, and asked:
How fitting I thought to be on the road to Damascus on the Fourth of July. Striding the boundary between God and Government, in these hot and hate filled days, just as Saul had done 2000 years ago.
Would I find redemption as did Saul?
In that one blinding, falling moment Saul became another man. The hunter of Christians, the heresy detective became in one instant full of yearning to be a Christian.
He had seen God. And trembling before that glory, stripped naked of his intellectual pretenses, he had cried out in the hope and fear of all believers:
“Lord, what would You have me to do?”
The odds were definitely against such an occurrence….
And then I had another uniquely southern moment. I noted that somewhere along the way, route 58 had become The Jeb Stuart Highway. A perfect display of state’s rights I thought. Also a fitting moniker for this twisting highway as Stuart’s own career as Major General in the Confederate Cavalry, during the War of Northern Aggression, had also been full of twisting ups and downs.
God and Guns, God and Guns. One Hundred and fifty-two years gone by and nothing changes. Hi ho silver-o deliver me from nowhere….
From Whitetop to Damascus was 31 miles via route 58 and Chestnut Creek Road. In between was the small fertile hamlet of Green Cove. A literal wide spot in the road. There was no one around, so I shot the small and handsome Green Cove Christian Church (If the donkey and elephant fail you try the lamb).
Driving I-64 into West Virginia is always gambling with one’s life. The road is small and tight and potholed and the traffic is always phrenetic and unforgiving. The ride down I-77 is little better. Headed south through WV I had found the usual bumper to bumper traffic on twisting I-77 through WV’s ancient battered and beautiful mountains. A back up just outside of Charleston forced me off the highway at Cabin Creek, boyhood home of basketball great Jerry West.
Further up the lot four black pick up trucks, each with an empty boat trailer, sat empty and parked side by side. I took some photographs and headed for the exit. As I did so, I noted that a county sheriff had drifted in behind me. Was he suspicious that I had been photographing, suspicious that I was not local? Images born of watching too many episodes of Justification floated through my head.
I crossed the big brown and muddy Ohio-recently named the nation’s most polluted waterway-and made my way to the center of town to Fountain Square. Cincinnati has undergone a great renaissance in the last 5 years and Fountain Square, at the city’s core, is now normally crowded nearly every night.