Morning Worship Along the Ganges

A Hindu devotee performs his morning rituals on the banks of the Ganges River in the ancient city of Varanasi. This morning liturgy includes the cleansing of the body and mind with holy water from the Mother Ganges while reciting prayers and mantras. Hindus believe that adherence to a series of daily morning and evening rituals will curry them favor in life and will purify them for their quest for communion with God.

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Mrs. Johnson and the Praise House

For the better part of the next hour, Mrs. Johnson tells us her story - she recently moved back to St Helena from New Jersey - and the history of this praise house. This area was once a part of the Mary Jenkins Plantation. Thus, we are standing in the Mary Jenkins Community Praise House. Prior to the Civil War, slaves who were living on plantations were often allowed to build small structures for worship known as praise houses. After Emancipation, former slaves who remained in the area would build more substantial praise houses. This one was built in 1900. Mrs. Johnson tells us that the community is dwindling and services are no longer held on a regular basis. But her eyes brighten and a smile crosses her face as she tells us that the services they do have are lively affairs with much hymn singing and praising, and ending with a shout. A shout was a tradition practiced by African slaves where the worshipers move in a circle as they chant, clap their hands, and shuffle and stomp their feet.

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Indian Rocks Beach Redux

We last spoke of the lovely Morning at Indian Rocks Beach. Well, it's late now, and the sun is slowly finishing its trek across the summer sky. I return to my little seaside cottage and shower off the day"s sun and salt. On the porch now, with a tall Boodles Gin and tonic in hand, I'm hoping to see the fabled green flash again this evening. Later, if I can manage to stay awake, a stroll along the starlit beach, watching for a nesting sea turtle to come ashore. And so it goes.

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