I met the photographer/artist today as I strolled the nostalgic streets of Apalachicola, Florida. He was a pleasant gentlemen whose portfolio and resume was sure to impress. What impressed upon me about him was his story of how he has traveled the world on assignment with some of the most famous magazines and journalism publications, but yet he came on assignment to Apalach (for short per the locals) and he stayed. He, as have I, fell in love with a people, a true culture that is like walking back in time. Apalach is an old river town that empties into the bay made famous for its sought after oysters. The bay feeds the gulf and the spoils feed the economy. It has always had deep roots in seafood still caught the same way they have been for decades, but it wasn’t always this way. It once was a booming logging and cotton town, whose port was once one of the busiest in the gulf. Though some industries have left, the culture has not. Hard working, slow-paced, close-knit, caring and God-fearing people make up the culture of Apalach. Deep South still permeates the air along with its food, architecture, dialects and religion. The religion I speak of is one that overwhelms its inhabitants. It carries over into their public and private life and offers a true hope and forgiveness. One of the many examples is the local Soul Food restaurant I ate at where the namesake recently passed away. Many would cave, sweep the struggle under the rug and show obvious anxiety in the face of an uncertain future of the business, but this is how they respond:
We are in awe of God and we are forever grateful for your prayers. For all of you He had in the right place just at the right time, we thank you! To that awesome group of customers who were dining and came in the back to do CPR, how do we say thank you? Please let us know who you are and how we can contact you. To Officers Wesley Creamer and Carlos Hill, the Weem’s EMT’s, the Weem’s Emergency Staff, Life Flight Techs and all of you who God used to help in this miracle, thank you. To all of you who touched and agreed with us and bombarded Heaven with your prayers-thank you! We pray that God will bless you in a mighty way and that he return unto you that which you have given unto us. Today we are rejoicing and giving God praise! Stay tuned as we continue to bring the good news of Jesus!
The Word of God is revered and their faith and evidence of God’s life transforming grace is palatable. I love it here. When life is going too hard and too fast, this place, these people, this culture and landscape, is my escape where I rest and renew my heart, mind and soul to health. I immerse myself in prayer, Scripture and gaze at the endless wonders of our God and his Mighty acts of Creation. I relish in time with my family and savor slow conversations with strangers and new acquaintances. It allows me to truly “Be Still. So back to my photo. I purchased this from the photojournalist today and he told me how this little church, a traditionally black church, about 40 miles upriver, was preparing to baptize 3 new believers one day and he asked if he could observe and photograph. He described a scene that he said was truly awe-inspiring, and emotional and spiritual event where burdens were washed clean and praise and joy were sung in old spiritual songs in the same water and in the same way they have been since Cotton was king in these parts. After the lady in the photograph followed through with believer’s baptism she yelled “I have been baptized with my Lord in my river Jordan!” I plan to hang this in my office because what a great reminder of the Gospel and its timeless truth that is unchanging and compels its beneficiaries to cry of victory and relief from the depths of their soul. The Gospel, like Apalach, is like a time and place that seems too good to be true, but we all know unlike most things that are too good, Apalach is real and is still a dull and pale comparison to the wondrous gift of Grace in the Gospel.
Check his Page out or the book!