The Marshes of Glynn, Sidney Lanier

This weekend I’m retreating on St. Simon’s Island at Epworth by the Sea.  Epworth is a center of South Georgia Methodism, the place my parents “met and fell in love”, and (drum roll, please) the place where I attended camp when I was a young kid.

Since I arrived yesterday, I’ve been trying to remember when I last visited this place.  I think it might have been between 6 and 10 years ago.  I’m not sure why I’ve stayed away- it certainly wasn’t intentional.  Now that I’m back I’m overwhelmed by the changes that have occurred.  New buildings abound and I was forced to locate a campus map upon my arrival.

I’ve always found it strange going back to familiar places after several years of absence.  The unfamiliarity of a new city is nothing like the juxtaposition of change upon the familiar.  Mostly I find in these situations that my perception of size is totally askew.  Here at Epworth too I am amazed that this place which seemed so large a complex is actually about the size of my undergraduate college campus and smaller than the location of my postgraduate study.  Still some of the past is recognizable… the live oaks under which John Wesley reportedly stood still slowly grow draped in the finery of spanish moss, the marshes silently flow bounding the holy land, cinderblock cabins await the sounds of campers, and I’m sure should I choose to visit the museum that the wax sculpture of Bishop Moore would still stand there in greeting.

It is good to return to this place and remember.

Oh, what is abroad in the marsh and the terminal sea?
Somehow my soul seems suddenly free
From the weighing of fate and the sad discussion of sin,
By the length and the breadth and the sweep of the marshes of Glynn.