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Charleston – the Holy City

The word “sunballousa” is Greek for “placing together for comparison.” Pondering would be a good synonym.

I really like the sound of it, and it reminds me of something that is extraordinary. Since I am Southern both in birth and speech, I can make more than four syllables when pronouncing it. Believe it or not, this word makes me smile when I say it.

There are times when the dawn and my coffee move me to pondering. I think about yesterday, plan for the day, and wonder about tomorrow.

We are in Charleston, my birthplace for a couple of days, and already sunballousa has invaded my mind and heart.

The moss on the trees immediately reminds me that I am visiting a city that continues to delight and mesmerize me. I am always surprised by the Holy City. There are treasures in the gardens, and walking the old cobblestone streets is a conduit to an older time. I can’t, or maybe shouldn’t climb on the cannons on the battery like I used to, but I remember the excitement of doing it.

The churches, the flower ladies, the Ashley River, the Cooper River, the horse-drawn carriages, the walkers, the bicyclists, the narrow streets, the artists – the old and the new living side-by-side.

Maybe this poem says it best.


by Dubose Heyward

“They tell me she is beautiful, my City,
That she is colorful and quaint, alone
Among the cities. But I, I who have known
Her tenderness, her courage, and her pity,
Have felt her forces mould me, mind and bone,
Life after life, up from her first beginning.
How can I think of her in wood and stone!
To others she has given of her beauty,
Her gardens, and her dim, old, faded ways,
Her laughter, and her happy, drifting hours,
Glad, spendthrift April, squandering her flowers,
The sharp, still wonder of her Autumn days;
Her chimes that shimmer from St. Michael‘s steeple
Across the deep maturity of June,
Like sunlight slanting over open water
Under a high, blue, listless afternoon.
But when the dusk is deep upon the harbor,
She finds _me_ where her rivers meet and speak,
And while the constellations ride the silence
High overhead, her cheek is on _my_ cheek.
I know her in the thrill behind the dark
When sleep brims all her silent thoroughfares.
She is the glamor in the quiet park
That kindles simple things like grass and trees.
Wistful and wanton as her sea-born airs,
Bringer of dim, rich, age-old memories.
Out on the gloom-deep water, when the nights
Are choked with fog, and perilous, and blind,
She is the faith that tends the calling lights.
Hers is the stifled voice of harbor bells
Muffled and broken by the mist and wind.
Hers are the eyes through which I look on life
And find it brave and splendid. And the stir
Of hidden music shaping all my songs,
And these my songs, my all, belong to her.”

So what is in the midst of your sunballousa today?

One thing I know it is time well-spent. Enjoy!

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