The day (August 14) began, wonderfully, with a gospel sing as a final conclusion to the Augusta Heritage Festival. This event began, as scheduled, at 10:00 AM, but it did not conclude until well past 11:00 AM. It was evident that everyone was thoroughly enjoying the sing-along and didn’t want it to end. It was held in the chapel at Davis and Elkins College, which is a very interesting building. It is round, and the seating is arranged around the circle so that everyone is basically facing each other. If I were going to design a chapel or church, this is the design I would use. It communicates, intangibly, that all the congregants are expected to be participants rather than spectators. (This is also how I would design classrooms, but that’s another story.) The singing was led, initially, by a member of the leadership team of the Augusta Heritage Festival, but he quickly moved into a shared leadership position, inviting anyone and everyone to suggest and/or lead songs. It was very nice!
A situation such as this makes me wonder about people’s enjoyment of gospel music. Is this enjoyment indicative of a genuine relationship with the author of the gospel, Jesus, or is this a cultural thing, centered more on the music than the message of the songs? There’s no real way to know for sure, and I’m sure the answer varies from individual to individual. There was one young fellow who left no doubt as to his passion for Jesus. He requested that we sing the hymn, “Victory in Jesus.” He admitted to being a poor singer (he wasn’t, really), and he went ahead and led the song with enthusiasm regardless. It was clear that it was the message of the song and not the tune alone that was meaningful to him.
When the sing-along ended one of the participants whom we had seen multiple times since Thursday night came over to chat with us. Both Elaine and I had noticed her early on because she looks a lot like a friend of our daughters. We had been referring to her as “Julin” because of this resemblance to this friend (whose name is Julin). So when she introduced herself to us, we told her about Julin and that we had been calling her Julin since Thursday. She told us a little about herself. She attended the vocal music week at Augusta. She is originally from Mississippi, but is currently living in Virginia. She is a songwriter, and presents her work at www.graciousmemusic.com. This has been one of the best parts for us of the Augusta Heritage Festival: meeting people who have a love for this music and the culture of this region.
On one of the short hikes I took there was a great overlook with a wide-ranging view of the Blackstone River in its canyon. When I saw it, it made me think of the standard West Virginia WV logo.
Here is the scene: Do you see what I mean about the logo?
In the afternoon we spent time on the river (Shaver’s Fork – tributary to the Cheat River). There is a really nice swimming area (hole?) in our campground. Unfortunately, it is not an easily walkable distance, so we have to get there by car, but it is well worth the trouble to get there. The river water is as clear as crystal, and it isn’t too cold nor too warm.
It was a lovely place to spend part of the afternoon. Then a thunderstorm came along and drove us back to the shelter of our camper for the rest of the evening.