Finding Faith and Hope in the Small Corners of Our lives

Dear Reader:

I got the deck cleaned off yesterday…it was a chilly start with frost…but warmed up nicely…especially in the early afternoon hours…I just wanted to curl up and take a nap on one of the lounge chairs.

Instead I curled up and read some of the twenty vignettes in Kent Nerburn’s book (Small Graces) over again. One particular story really brought back so many childhood memories. To date, since 2014, (Chapel of Hope Stories, Pt 2) I have written about my love of nooks and crannies four times….averaging one blog post a year. I just love corners.

After reading Nerburn’s vignette on the power of corners…I realized why they are still so ingrained in my psyche. Here is the story.

“Pat had been teaching kindergarten for over twenty years. So long, in fact, that she had almost become a child again herself. 

Her classroom was a joyous place, full of laughter and play. To some of the more serious minded of the children, it was almost too raucous, a betrayal of the severity and silence that they were already learning as the price of survival in a world governed by adults.

But this did not deter her. There were hugs, small animals, baskets full of clothes and costumes; colors, shapes, signs that meant nothing at all. Put them on, march around, crawl on the floor. Speak in a language that no one else knows. Draw a picture of something that no one has ever seen. 

What’s your name today? Why don’t we all talk backwards? What would a starfish say to a star?

And gradually they all came to her. She was a gift to behold, the wonderment of childhood written large upon their hearts. 

“What is the secret?” I asked her, as the children filed out one day, their minds full of kaleidoscopes, pinwheels, and dinosaur dreams. 

“Corners,” she said. “All children need corners.”

I looked around the classroom. Small piles of stones in shoeboxes. Little worlds constructed in cubicles and cubbies. Corners.

She showed me a hidden place behind a bookshelf where one boy had strung a complex web of string, yarn, and filled it with climbing plastic men. 

“If I could, I would give him an attic. But this corner is enough.”

We walked to the center of the room. A circle had been taped on the floor. “This is where we meet together,” she said. “It is good for them to know that we are all part of a whole. But there,” she continued, pointing to the corners, the boxes, the cubbies “is where they go to dream. Show me the corners and I will show you the child.”

Right before remembering Miss Pat, Nick’s kindergarten teacher, Nerburn had been distraught over his young son’s room…completely in disarray…beyond help…or perhaps only salvageable with a lot of help. But the memory of Miss Pat stopped him from yelling at Nick to get in there and start picking up. He deliberately walked over to a corner in the bedroom and found it.

“There, beneath the table, Nick had constructed a spaceship, a wild and fanciful winged creation of plastic parts populated with dinosaurs and tiny figures. Next to it miniature plastic monkeys climbed a tower made of sticks and straws. Pieces of string and ribbon connected the tower to the ship.”

Nerburn slowly and carefully backed out of the room…returning to the family’s organized, neat adult living room. He took a seat in his chair in the center of the room and smiled.

As a child, I sought out the corners of life to play in with my imaginary friends, as well as, neighborhood children and family cousins. At grandmother’s house I set up “shop” in corners of the hayloft over the barn, behind a corner field oak tree, and lots of corners in the attic.

It was there I read, had tea parties with dolls and dreamed…always dreamed…about what my life would look like. When I walked back into my bedroom off the deck (after reading this vignette) I had to laugh…at two corners in my adult bedroom. The child in me still lives there.

This corner in my bedroom is the grandchildren’s favorite place to run to when they come visit…especially Rutledge and Lachlan…they always want to know if there is a new truck or car in the cloth truck basket. I just wink and tell them to go see…there always is. *Jakie doesn’t come very often but he has caught on quickly… he now asks me about my truck basket and if there is something in it for him when I go to their house. I tell him “Yes” but he must come and see.

Eva Cate used to come a lot… but with her bouts of homesickness now…less often. In the Boo Boo basket (Mandy decorated for me)…my old doll Polly waits to be played with…she holds a photo of Eva Cate meeting her for the first time . Eva Cate was about two.

Before we know it…Eloise will come and get to meet Polly too and play with her…In fact maybe one day both girls can have a tea party with her. Polly would love it…it has been a long wait.

My other corner in the bedroom is filled with my favorite color…all shades of it…orange…with little white fairy lights surrounding some of my favorite things…pictures of my children when they were little, candles, floral decorations and angels to guard it all.

So until tomorrow…My hope and faith is still drawn to corners…those special crannies that offer security, hope, and faith in a world that tries to erase these attributes… if we let it. So we must prevail with fostering dreams in our corners, along with the child, in each of us. (Not only for us…but for our loved ones who follow us)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh


*Jo and Colby…Your rose bush had its first bloom open today…welcome to Spring 2018!






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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2 Responses to Finding Faith and Hope in the Small Corners of Our lives

  1. bcparkison says:

    I’ve always wanted a house with a real attic. My great aunt had one and it was magic.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      I have an attic…but it is the kind that you have to climb a ladder to get to and then climb through the sawed out square ceiling slab, push upward and then hoist yourself in….so I have never seen it…and never will….one electrician who put in recessed lights for me (a couple of years ago) in the den complimented me saying it was the cleanest attic he had ever seen…I told him because he was the first person to see it!

      Liked by 1 person

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