25 February 2010: Reflections On Savannah, GA – My Soul Looks Back And Wonder…

As many of you know, I spent last weekend in Savannah, GA with my genea-pals Luckie, Felicia, and Mavis, and my brother Bernard. (Click here to see photos from our trip.) To say that it was a wonderful trip would truly be an understatement; it was perfect. From the company, to the weather, to the accommodations, it was a flawless weekend. My genea-sisters Felicia (My Nola Heritage), Luckie (Our Georgia Roots), and Mavis (Georgia Black Crackers) have done an excellent job, through words and/or pictures, of recounting our trip-the fun we had, and the friendship we shared. We had a great time, and I really, really enjoyed myself. Yet, I could not write about the trip. I posted photos on Tombstone Tuesday and on Wordless Wednesday, but otherwise have not blogged about my Savannah experience. It was a trip with memories that I will treasure for a lifetime, but, I just could not find words to write about the experience. Until this morning, I wasn’t sure why. Now I realize I needed time to digest – not so much what my eyes had seen, but rather what my soul had felt. It was an emotional experience like no other.

Often, mere words cannot adequately convey emotions. Often times, song lyrics can. This morning as I reflected on the trip, what came to mind was the old gospel hymn How I Got Over. In that moment, as the lyrics of the chorus flowed through my mind, I was finally able to associate my feelings and emotions with words. The chorus to the song goes:

How I got over
How I got over
You know my soul looks back and wonder
How I got over

Our ancestors have always found comfort in song. It’s no wonder this old spiritual would bring me comfort now when I was so desperate to identify what has been nagging at me these past few days. Finally, I have words for these emotions; the deep feeling of sadness. Those lines of the song perfectly reflect and sum-up my Savannah experience. My soul does surely look back and wonder…How OUR ANCESTORS Got Over.

You know my soul looks back and wonder….

How….such a beautiful room could have once been the living quarters for slave ancestors who waited the call to do their master’s bidding. Yet, my sleep there was peaceful..unusually so. No doubt some small corner of the room was a haven from the harsh realities outside. I was rocked to sleep by the spirit of those ancestors. I have no doubt about that.

How…. The Hanging Tree with all its natural beauty and splendor of 270 years was used for such and ugly purpose. My soul aches for all the ancestors whose fate was a noose at the end of a rope tied to a branch on that tree.

You know my soul looks back and wonder….

How…. our ancestors survived the lashes of a whip that cut through the bark of The Whipping Tree. My soul feels the pain that each mark on that tree represents; the screams of agony, the bloodshed, the despair. My eyes filled with tears; my heart with rage.

How….today’s beautiful and tranquil waters of the Savannah River once held vessels that transported our ancestors to the market place on River Street; to an uncertain fate, maybe even death.

You know my soul looks back and wonder….

How….men, women, children, and babies could be held in confinement awaiting the unknown fate and indignity of purchase; sold by The River, down The River on River Street. How did they endure the pain, thirst, hunger, and suffering? My soul feels empty when I think about the shear disrespect for human life.

How….the Slave Barracoons and cobblestone paths of River Street are all but forgotten by a city whose history is heavy with the spirit of our slave ancestors. I look back and I wonder.

Amongst all that is the beauty of Savannah, there lives an undeniable and unforgettable history of pain and suffering. That history is heavy with the spirit of our ancestors. That ancestor spirit is what I felt most in my soul and will never forget. As I reflect on my visit, the memory is bitter sweet and…. My soul looks back and wonder….

How THEYgot over
How THEY got over
You know my soul looks back and wonder
How OUR ANCESTORS got over

Barrocoons-Outside-View-150x150  Barrocoons-Inside3-150x150  Savannah-River-150x150  Whipping-Tree-150x150  TheHangingTree-LG-150x150  Room-150x150

[How I Got Over is a Gospel hymn composed and published in 1951 by Rev. W. Herbert Brewster. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_I_Got_Over ]