It was a prelude to Mother’s Day. Before a room filled with members of the distinguished Stone Mountain Woman’s Club, a discussion centered around some exceptional places to visit for either a day trip or a wonderful weekend. The list is long, but two came to mind.
Some aspects of the gathering remain gently fixed in that part of memory where precious memories are recorded. In an era when folks seem to be a little more bellicose, these gentle and lovely ladies conducted their important business with good humor, precision and thoroughness.
Koinonia Farms near Jimmy Carter’s home in Plains, Georgia is a destination qualifying as a pilgrimage. A working farm that began in 1942 as a refuge for the oppressed, it is the historic birthplace of Habitat for Humanity. Founded by the legendary Reverend Clarence Jordan, Koinonia is a living and functional example of the power of the Beatitudes. Often called Georgia’s version of the Garden of Eden, it begs to be experienced and honored.
|Women Who Lead Us|
For the many thousands throughout the world who have enjoyed Tom Key and Harry Chapin’s glorious musical “Cotton Patch Gospel,” which is based on the works of Rev. Jordan and inspired by the spiritual meaning of Koinonia Farms, the motivation to visit the birthplace of these wonders is profound. We marvel at how this little place on earth has made our world a better place.
A perfect Sunday Down South: Sunday School led by President Carter followed by a tour of Koinonia Farms. dinner on the grounds while singing traditional hymns.
Despite being frail, Reverend Howard Finster was a genuine Georgia giant. His stated mission was to share the word of God through his natural talent of painting and constructing art. Paradise Gardens in Summerville remains his vision of heaven. With the combined efforts of state and private help, this marvel will be preserved for today and future generations. You don’t simply enjoy the artwork of Rev. Finster, you behold everything.
|"My Father's House" by Rev. Howard Finster|
At the time of his death, Rev. Howard Finster was the world’s most exhibited folk artist. Some of his most acclaimed works are in Atlanta’s High Museum of Art. “In My Father’s House,” the minister’s construction made of found glass is his vision of heaven. To see this is to believe that the artist from rural Northwest Georgia fully served the word of God with devotion.
One of the most useful instructions I received from a very wise father encouraged me to travel far and near. It is the most interesting way to broaden knowledge. The cultural and spiritual rewards are endless and there is the very real possibility of making new friends. It’s not necessary to plan expensive, exotic trips. The treasures close by offer more than just casual surprises. During my visits to Paradise Gardens, I’ve met good people from faraway places including Japan and Ireland who knew about Rev. Finster and were more like pilgrims than tourists. Some told me that they had visions encouraging the trip to this Georgia destination.
Koinonia Farm has an international following with visitors from other countries regularly walking through the pecan groves, fields of crops, bowing in prayer at the farm cemetery and visiting the facilities.
Bring your favorite camera. Both destinations showcase remarkable people and scenes you’ll treasure and be eager to share.