(Written on September 1st)
What is Georgia? The name suggests southern charm, graceful and magnificent mansions, rolling green hills. This is not the Georgia of which I speak! Georgia is the tiny gem of a nation that is nestled down between the Black and the Caspian Seas and the hostile and formidable Russia to the north and Turkey to the south! She is a place of such surpassing and exquisite beauty; from the 16,000 foot striking Caucus mountains peaks to her valleys carpeted with the lovely wild flowers and laced with her rushing, clear mountain streams! Grandeur and rugged terrain are the features I most admire in her landscape for her beauty brings one reverently into a pure worship of her Creator!
What is Georgia? She is a struggling democracy that is crying out to be allowed to become, to shine, to have peace amongst the nations of the world! Today, we were privileged to join her people, as we made a prayer-chain that circled Tbilisi, and the besieged city of Gori! A chain of praying Georgians along much of the Black Sea coast to the Turkish border! We were a human chain of praying Georgians; holding hands as a sign of unity and devotion to each other and of our faith in God as we cried out to Him to give us favor with NATO and asking for Russia to "Go home!" and let us live in peace! Since Russia invaded Georgia's borders a few weeks ago, we have heard stories of great men of God (Georgian priests) going into areas ravished by war, singing as they go; showing no fear as they ask for the bodies of the brave Georgian soldiers who have died defending their land against this terrible invasion by Russia! One can not help but be proud of such a beautiful and astonishing people!
Georgia is mine! How can you say that, you cry? It is mine by appreciation, by love, and by appropriation, and by the seizure of her beauty and strength through living here so many days, nights and seasons for the past 16 years. It is mine by the fact that my family and I have suffered with these generous, intelligent, and warm people through many sorrows! We cried with them through the ending of the cruel civil war in the spring of 1992! We came on the first commercial airplane that was allowed to come into the aftermath of a bloody overthrow of the first president, Gamsakhurdia, and again during the merciless and brutal invasion by Russia into the incredibly beautiful Abkhazia in 1993, when over 50,000 of their people were murdered or displaced! Yes! She is mine, because our sons gave ammunition to some of the soldiers who were going to fight in that war! (Our youngest son was given the ammunition by a Georgian soldier friend.) Georgia is mine, because we endured the cold winters when Russia shut off the gas into Georgia and when the electricity was off more than on and we were happy with them when "something was running well"!
Georgia is mine because we share in her sufferings and rejoice in her victories! Four of our five sons have lived in Georgia and the two youngest practically grew up here. They are grateful for the life-long Georgian friends they made here; some were with them when they were robbed and threatened! Through the dark years of muggings and crowded buses and through the terrifying days before "The Rose Revolution" when we prayed many prayers with our beloved Georgian brothers and sisters, we have endured alongside them! Together, we have wept and rejoiced in answered prayer!
Georgia is the dancer who is incredible in his/her strength, beauty and fierceness and always makes me want to cry in his superb and intensely magnificent performances! Georgia is the piercingly independent and tough mountain people of Svaneti, the exceedingly hospitable people of Georgia in the west and in east Georgia, as well! She is in her succulent, spicy dishes that her ancestors created thousands of years ago; in her balconies that speak of her friendliness and fondness of sharing, her gardens and in the abundant fruit of her land. Georgia is in her world-famous, delicious wines, made from the grapes of her sweet, prolific vineyards!
Throughout the centuries, Georgians have proved themselves to be strong and very courageous! They have been invaded by nations many times over larger and seemingly more powerful than they; yet, they endure! How can this be? They show their strength by their persistence and their determination and their warrior spirit, but more importantly they show their strength by their faith in God! He lifts up those that call upon Him in humility and faith! And this is why I can call Georgia mine, for I worship with Georgians in their ancient, magnificent churches and as we pray together and thank God together - we are one!
What is Georgia? She is the beautiful Georgian language that was one of the first 13 languages of the world. She is Rustaveli's "Knight in the Panther's Skin" and in the great works of her poets like Chavchavadze who showed such a deep faith in God and tells about her faith in so many of his poems and writings! Georgia is the splendid and glorious Orthodox Cathedrals and in her faith through the centuries! Since Saint Nino brought Christianity in 337 AD, she has been known as a Christian nation! When Saint Nino, a young slave girl from Capadocia prayed for Queen Nana to be healed and God healed her, King Miriam made a declaration of faith in God through Jesus Christ and he proclaimed her Christian!
Again, we ask, "What is Georgia?" Georgia is music! May she never lose her song! She is in her superb, melodic singing that is so rich with 10-part harmonies and beauty, so rich that it pierces the soul! Georgia is truly a unique and brilliant jewel of a nation that is only 1/3 the size of Colorado, but with a heart as big as the ocean! She is so delightful to the senses that one feels somehow "at home" here and, yet, there is a knowing in her visitor's hearts that only "true Georgians" can, in all honesty, call her theirs!
May she endure and be blessed until the end of time! Gaumarjos! Victory for Georgia! GOD BLESS GEORGIA!