Haven’t you visited a place where you could almost feel the portal between the present and past…where memories lingered so heavily…you actually felt the weight of the past living on in an historical period around you?
You might remember that Karen White’s latest book (The Sound of Glass) has become my first spring/summer read this year. Actually I am still reading it…purposely limiting myself to only a couple of chapters a night because I don’t want to finish it.
Beaufort is the setting in this novel. One particular day some of the key characters travel 17 miles north of the town to visit the Church of Prince Williams’ Parish (better known today as the Old Sheldon Church Ruins.)
I, personally, have visited it several times and always walk away from the old ruins feeling a sense of history but also a sense of sadness. Today all that remains is the outer walls and brick pillars.
The church burned twice: First by the British Army in 1799 (American Revolution) and then by Sherman’s union soldiers in 1865-the last months of the Civil War.
It is a place where one would expect ghost stories to linger…and there are a few. The most famous ghost being that of Ann Bull Heyward…who supposedly returns attired in a plain, brown dress to watch over her baby’s grave.
In the novel…Loralee, when asked by her ten year old son if the ruins are haunted…shakes her head but thinks to herself:
“It’s not only ghosts who haunt us. Our memories follow us through life, surprising us now and again when we are forced to turn around and look behind us.”
Over the years…the branches of the surrounding oak trees have moved closer and closer to the ruins. Merritt (another character in the novel) observes:
” The branches of the encroaching oak trees resemble sweeping shawls of moss.”
“It is as if the oaks have grown closer to the church over time to protect it with their long arms, like a mother shielding a child.”
Loralee wonders as she looks up at the open sky whether “prayers might get to heaven faster without interference from a roof.”
I remember sharing that same thought as I wandered within the ruins in all its open-ness the last time I was there. I couldn’t help but be impressed by the fortitude of the old church…burned twice and still standing proudly with all its scars intact. Scars do let us know the story of where we have been and what we have endured…doesn’t it?
The fictional character, Loralee, has left me with one memorable thought that I underlined in the book and *** starred several times. An important observation on life….
“Every time we remember something, we aren’t remembering the event, itself, but recalling the last time we remembered it. It is our way of creating filters between our past and present, creating what we choose to recall and what we would rather forget.”
How true. No matter how devastating a memory…over time we slowly begin to remember it differently… than the actual event as it happened.
Perhaps God purposely puts filters in our memories to keep the portal closed between past and present so we can let the past go and live in the moments of the present. The weight of the past would be too heavy for us to carry on our life’s journey so God takes it from us and gives us a little nudge to continue down our pre-ordained paths.
If you get a chance, take a little history jog to the Old Sheldon Church Ruins… embrace the beauty and nostalgia of this proud church’s story… because it is our story too.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
* Harriett Edwards had a brunch yesterday morning on her deck/porch overlooking her garden filled with beauty and serenity. There were four of us, a delicious buffet-Harriett is quite the cook…. It looked like a scene from Southern Living.
It was Harriett who gave me the iris and lily bulbs that have produced the most exquisite beauty this year for me…it was the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you, thank you, thank you Harriett.
Besides being a great cook…look at this rug Harriett made for the latest addition in the family.
Beautiful table setting…actually just beautiful setting all together. We had so much fun catching up…because even though Summerville has changed from a sleepy little town (when we all started teaching back in the early 70’s) to a bustling Big Town…(trying to avoid the word city) the educational family remains a close and small-knit community.
Perhaps the cute hand towel in Harriett’s restroom sums it up best:
* “Sweet Sis” Kinney emailed me last week to let me know she was sending me something that she knew would catch my interest. Yesterday it arrived….a copy of Our State Magazine (North Carolina) with an article in it about St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope.
It certainly did…because the author (Jimmy Tomlin) experienced the exact same feelings of elation, peace, and curiosity as I did.
“The peace begins to envelop me as soon as I get out of my car. Leaves wave gently in the breeze, and a creek running behind the chapel offers the soothing sound of rushing water.
Inside the chapel, sunlight filters through several stained-glass windows and illuminates the room. Four wooden pews, each bearing a cross in the seat back, provide seating for eight visitors. A kneeling bench sits at the foot of the altar, where visitors can find a Bible, a hymnal, or prayer book.
What really grabs my attention is …the altar, if you will…that’s overflowing with all sorts of trinkets and mementos…”
*(If you remember…it was the altar/table filled with personal mementos that actually started the blog. I wanted to know WHO left them and WHY…that mystery remains a mystery, instead the blog began to embrace all of God’s mysteries in our daily lives.)