Holy Ground©

Averyell A. Kessler

I am outraged, shocked and angry. Really angry. Some folks, fools to be sure, have invaded my holy ground wearing hobnailed boots, spewing threats, and shattering Belhaven’s quiet tranquility. This is trespass and a violation in the first order. Here I grew up, learned to walk, talk, make friends, and begin life at Power School – both old and new. Our house, located on Laurel Street between St Mary and St. Ann,  wasn’t grand. It was an aging leftover built long before World War II that nobody really wanted. But it was available and my parents needed to move out of a tiny second floor apartment on North State Street. It became my house and my home. In short, my holy ground.

Holy ground exists in every part of Jackson, no matter who lives where. We all have it, even if it exists only in memory. Race or religion don’t matter, neither does life experience, income, or current circumstances. It may be Mamaw’s small patch of grass on the edge of town, a once vacant lot on Laurel Street, the bubbling creek transecting Belhaven,  or even a dust dry backyard where a rope swing hangs from a sturdy pine tree. For some, holy ground exists now, as a place where family is safe, children run free and splash in a blow-up swimming pool. A place where people sit in front porch rockers, drink sweet tea, and talk last week’s game. It’s a place where gardens are tended, basketball goals are raised, and smoking ribs send fragrant aromas into the cool, night air. Sometimes, chickens share space with a rooster, pigeons, or maybe a few stray goats. The doghouse is there too.

Holy ground may exist in a well-fortified upscale neighborhood or a struggling down at heel street which only sees police cars when something goes horribly wrong. Most importantly, it includes that tiny second floor apartment and the family who calls it home. Every citizen, absolutely everyone deserves, a safe place.

Before the usual plethora of comments crash in, here’s a story from my grandfather. It’s simplistic, but it ages well. “My Dad was rough,” he said. “He told me never to think things couldn’t be done. If I ask you to milk a cow through a picket fence, I expect you to try.”

“But nobody can’t do that,” I replied.  “Why did your father say that?”

“Because he wanted me to figure it out.”

“Figure out what?” I asked.

“You don’t have to accept things as they are. If it’s time to milk the cow, don’t let a fence stop you. Climb over the damn thing!”

 So listen up, Jackson poohbahs, whoever your are. It’s time to control crime in Jackson. Our holy ground in in danger; don’t let the picket fence of politics, greed, unrest, or sharp words stop you. It’s time to climb over the damn thing.

Averyell A. Kessler is a writer and a native of Jackson, MS.

5 thoughts on “Holy Ground©

  1. I am outraged as well. I see and (sort of) understand the problems — but —- other cities have problems and have recognized and dealt with them. Most Jacksonians are smart people. There’s a solutions to this. Find it.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. What do you suggest? We all are afraid-at least I am. I don’t leave our house after dark – unless my husband is with me and armed. NOTHING is being done!! What is the solution? Should every street hire an armed guard? Until some of these thugs are killed, NOTHING will be done, and even then, there are probably more thugs living in the same houses ready to take their place. I am totally disheartened by the situation.


    1. I don’t know the answer, Marion, but someone does. NYC just elected a tough cop as new mayor to clean up the city. I am certain there’s a tough cop somewhere in Jackson who knows just what to do. The problem – he’ll be running with political chains on his feet.


    2. I don’t have the answer, Marion, but NYC just elected a tough copy at their new mayor to clean up the city. I’m certain there’s a tough cop in this city who knows just what to do. The problem – he’ll be running with political chains of his feet.


  3. You’re one of us who have suffered through more than a decade now of unbridled, unrelenting crime in our fair city of Jackson. I inherited a castle, in my way of thinking, when my mom passed over 30 years ago. It wasn’t long before lawn tractors, barbecue grills, lawn furniture and anything of value kept outside disappeared. Then, because I was away from my castle, out of town overnight, because my work demanded it, I experienced breakins, and lots of my inside possessions were stolen also. After numerous such experiences and no relief from Jackson’s Finest, I picked up and left the city for good. A dollar figure of somewhere north of $20 K is my estimated loss. I can’t sell, so luckily I have a great renter and his family living in my castle.


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