Creating Filters Between Past and Present


Dear Reader:

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?

IMG_5030You 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.”

Loralee’s observation:

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.

10933795_991383434224231_1626979234126868311_nSo until tomorrow…Take the burdens of the past from us Father so we can wake up each day to a clean slate and the possibility of a new life…through a better relationship with You.


“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.

IMG_5242* I took two of my favorite lily blooms to her to thank her again for the bulbs.

Besides being a great cook…look at this rug Harriett made for the latest addition in the family.





IMG_0807Susan Gaston (in the rocking chair) Harriett, me, and Nelita Dubose.






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.)









About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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6 Responses to Creating Filters Between Past and Present

  1. Sis Kinney says:

    Good Friday morning, Becky!

    Glad you got the magazine; knew you would love it. Unfortunately, I still have not been able to get down there. That IS on my “bucket list” for this summer!

    The picture you posted about the Old Sheldon Church ruins reminded me instantly of the old Biggins Church ruins in Moncks Corner. I took Carol Poole’s “History In Your Own Back Yard” course 11 years ago (!!!) and learned SO much about Berkeley County, and on our visit to the Biggins Church ruins brought the thoughts of beauty and serenity amidst the stately ruins. The Old Sheldon Church ruins picture looks very much the same; perhaps there’s more moss hanging on this one.

    Again, loved the blog and I’m thinking I need to get to the library to check out some summer-reading books; the one you talked about sounds interesting.

    Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!!



    • Becky Dingle says:

      I taught several summer history classes with Carol for a grant our two districts shared for three summers and we took the teachers there several times…to both places…I miss teaching those summer courses.


  2. Honey Burrell says:

    Beautiful blog! 9 years ago on a April morning I stood at the Old Sheldon Church ruins as we had the opening ceremony for the MS Challenge Walk. I could feel the spirits of those I was walking for. I knew from that moment we were all connected.
    I loved the article of our St. Jude’s. Have a great day!


  3. Becky Dingle says:

    There is something very special and spiritual about those old ruins, isn’t there?


  4. Johnny Johnson says:

    Great one today Mrs. Dingle! I know the feeling described when you visit a historical place. Almost as if you were there at the time it was still being used or visited on Sundays regularly. It’s a little eerie at times but I think it’s because uou feel the presence of those from the days gone by. Now I must go see the church ruins in Beaufort! I have come to love the feeling you get when you visit the old places. But we do need to let the past go, we can’t v hangs it no matter how much in some cases we wish that we could. Today uhh s all we can control to a degree so we march on and with God’s help we make it the best day that we can so tomorrow we can remember it in a good light snd not regret. Loved this blog very much! One day I also would love to see the Chapel of Hope too!


  5. Becky Dingle says:

    Johnny…it is my fondest wish is that soon you will be able to see both special sites….there is something so spiritual about going to places where the presence of God is felt so strongly.


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