During my almost two decades of research on Francis Asbury, one of my favorite discoveries is a poem by Harold Lawrence. It resides in the book, Methodist Preachers in Georgia, 1783 – 1900. Mr. Lawrence is the author of both the poem and the book. It reads as follows:
Who were those who entered here
Through a corridor in time
Under the arches made by boughs
Into a sanctuary of groves
Down the river roads?
Who willed their presence?
Who commended them to bring
A Word to God-forsaken places,
Rehearsing their exhortations
To the empty lands?
What passion set their tongues
Proclaiming in the starlight
Between the settlements?
In that barren darkness,
What magnificence stirred their blood?
They came with restless spirits
On horses balking in the swollen streams,
Bearing their ideals in flesh
That died from river fevers
And the chill of solitary camps.
Announced on the morning vapors
With whippoorwills for heralds,
They entered into human habitations
And shouted in the arbors,
Expecting others to catch their fire.
Remounting by the ashes
Of still-warm convictions,
Aching in the stirrups,
They vanished in the twists
Of creeks and generations.
In consecrated moments,
Their harness still thrown over
The urges of a world
Bridled now and tamed,
they gallop through our memory