Nature and Worship…An Added Grace of Peace and Serenity

Dear Reader:

I love the big oaks with the swaying Spanish moss that seem to lean over our sanctuary with protecting arms. If these trees could talk…what sights and stories they could share…starting with the exploratory history of the first colonists to live in the area.

(Title photo) This is the section of property that I cross to short-cut down from the higher level parking spots (where I park “Surcie” for worship days) to the lower levels where the sanctuary lies. Even though we had to lose some beautiful acreage to add drive-ways and parking areas…(or as the Counting Crows sang…”We paved paradise and put up a parking lot“…the church still did a good job of saving as much nature as possible.

For example…our church history explains how we came to own 42 acres of a wildlife sanctuary with almost a mile of walking trails…all part of our church campus. It all had to do with a “sweet deal” Dorchester Presbyterian Church made with Westvaco in 1990 (the land was bought at the very low sum of $12,000) with the understanding that the land would remain perpetually undeveloped as a nature preserve.

In 2008 the maintained walking trails added a prayer labyrinth named The Richard Cushman Wildlife Sanctuary when Dr. Cushman retired.

What I especially love about our sanctuary are the walls of windows where one can sit and lose themselves in the beauty of the locale as the Word is read and hymns of praise sung. There is a real sense of getting away from the world for that precious time on any given Sunday. Like our sign says…”Let there be light” and our sanctuary has it in abundance!

Characteristically early churches wanted to try to capture a little piece of heaven in their sacred architecture…stain-glassed windows, clear open windows, art decor, heavenly music, high ceilings pronouncing the loftiness of our Creator. Church buildings are still built to provide a type of refuge to escape the challenging world we live in the other days of the week.

Who remembers going to church camps and eagerly awaiting the last night …because the moving candle-light Vespers ceremony never ceased to provide a sense of security and bonding among all the campers with one common belief…God is an essential part of our lives?

My children went to church summer camp  in Montreat in the North Carolina mountains and loved it…especially Mandy who adored Youth Camp and the candle-light Vespers ceremony on the mountain by the lake the last night. There is something special about worshiping outside in nature.

However whether we worship inside a building or outside on a mountain the most important architectural design has nothing to do with trying to imitate some builder’s idea of heaven. Because when we get to heaven Quinn Caldwell believes that something else will be the most important component of the scene before us….(and nothing to do with the building, furniture, or design of our place of worship)

“But take heart; I don’t know whether heaven will have the same carpeting your church does, but there are a few elements of your sanctuary’s design that I’m quite sure you’ll see again when you arrive: the ones who are breathing.”

So until tomorrow….Let’s try to find and then keep a little piece of heaven in our daily lives.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*Look what Vickie showed me when I went over to her house yesterday afternoon…a planter pot with a young geranium in it forming clusters of blooms. She then surprised me and said “You’ve got another geranium grandchild in the family.” 

As I stood there dumbly trying to understand… Vickie told me that a large stem fell off the big red geranium…after putting Big Red back on the porch following one of the earlier freezes. She saw it on the porch floor…took it home…put it in the soil and has been nursing it ever since.

As soon as “baby geranium” gets a little older Vickie is bringing it back home to “Big Red!” Two clones now…dad and junior!


I was just about to click off the computer last evening… when I set the timer and date for tomorrow’s post and realized it was March 4…the anniversary of my little brother, David’s, passing… shortly before he graduated from Erskine College, March 4, 1973 (21) and also Kaitlyn’s big sister, Amanda…March 4, 2016 (37)

It is important to pause and reflect on the lives of our siblings and the role they played in our own lives…even if the time was short for both of them.

To David and Amanda…we reflect on your caring memories, remember your loving presence in our life, and miss you so!







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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3 Responses to Nature and Worship…An Added Grace of Peace and Serenity

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    Sweet blog today…Happy Birthday to David.

    I tried to get in toucb with you thrkugh the blog and private message through FB to see if you could do lunch but I didn’t see your reply either pkace…went back through the blog looking. I may just run by one day this wkd to set a day for next week. It is sad we can’t text or call like normal people but I will get in touch soon



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