Monday, April 9, 2012

April 09, 2012

All Things Happen For a Purpose

Sometimes it is hard to remember that there are reasons for everything. As I stood along a tropical pathway at Fort Caroline near Jacksonville, Florida, full of enthusiasm for my pilgrimage and the possibility of honoring the French Protestants who met a horrific end there in September 1565, my hopes were crushed by a wooden post sporting a flimsy piece of paper. “The fort exhibit is closed today. Sorry for the inconvenience.” I understood this was not the “real” fort but only a reconstruction of the past Fort Caroline. That did not improve my outlook. I was shocked that after waiting for the better part of a decade to visit, I would be unable to walk inside. But events soon unfolded that made me hopeful instead of bitter. 

There was a reason the fort was closed. The grounds were being cleaned up. The pathway was being resurfaced. Fort Caroline would soon be better than ever. And not only that . . . I later discovered the National Park Service is building a display that will give names and identities to many of those French Huguenots that eked out a living, suffered, and died at La Caroline. That simple but touching gesture is what I had always hoped for . . . closure. Recognition. Humanization. For what gives a person value more than a name? 

As of March 27, 2012, Fort Caroline was emptied of its markers
and artillery. Yet when the memorial is finished, this fort will hold
the names of many Frenchmen who lived and died here.

Despite the crushing disappointment, I now realize that I would much rather see Fort Caroline after these changes have been implemented, when the cannons proudly stand guard, when the French flag flies high over the citadel, when the center of La Caroline has been turned into a worthy memorial for those who came before. I am planning to return soon. When I do, I will understand that some pilgrimages are worth waiting for.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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