Perhaps because I'm old enough to have a history of my own, I've come to appreciate lessons of the past much more than I did from my classroom desk. Last weekend my husband and I celebrated our anniversary in Charleston, a city whose cobblestone streets, brick alleyways, and pillared buildings exude the triumphs and tragedies of lives long gone.
We stayed at the Indigo Inn, once an indigo warehouse, now a comfortable lodging place in the heart of the historic district. All the rooms wrap around an interior courtyard of lush vegetation and splashing fountains. I wondered how the layout had ever lent itself to being a warehouse.
Turns out the vision of an 18th century woman became the re-vision of a 20th century one.
Eliza Lucas Pinckney, a 16-year-old colonial woman, took over the management of her father's plantations. She experimented with indigo, and in spite of many failed attempts, persevered and went on to become a successful business woman credited with developing indigo as one of South Carolina's major cash crops.Years after her death, a warehouse built to store indigo attested to the longevity of her vision.
According to Brian, our innkeeper, thirty years ago his parents bought the old warehouse. One website suggests that Frankie, his mother, had a lot to do with the inn's present condition. Not having interviewed her, I can only speculate how she might have convinced her husband. Nothing to it. Just take off the roof, carve out the middle, plant a courtyard full of trees and shrubs, section out some rooms around the perimeter, and hang out the sign.
As I hunkered down with my breakfast plate on one of the couches tucked amidst the foliage, I saluted the woman who, instead of tacking a "historical building" sign on an edifice which no longer functioned in its original purpose, persevered through a new possibility. And if the full house on the weekend we stayed was any indication, her re-vision had paid off.
Sometimes I've tended to think of revision with dread, when, in fact, its meaning--to see anew-- is a positive action. It sees the exact word in place of the elusive one. It sees possibilities in place of problems. And it sees tourists chatting around platters of wine and cheese in place of bricks of indigo.
May I have the courage and perseverance to see any defunct warehouses in my life through the eyes of Holy Spirit Re-Vision. (And may my husband agree!)