Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Palmetto Phoenix--Old Sheldon Church

November 27, 2010

Sheldon, South Carolina

We skipped the service at our own church this morning, and visited the Old Sheldon Church near Beaufort, South Carolina instead. Built in the mid-1700s, it was burned by British troops during the Revolutionary War. It was rebuilt in 1826, only to be destroyed again during the Civil War. Depending on who is telling the story, either General Sherman burned it during his March to the Sea, or locals looted it in a desperate effort to get the materials they needed to rebuild their homes after Sherman's army destroyed them.

Either way, only the skeleton of what was once Prince William Parish Church remains, and from its bones we can imagine its past grandeur. It is still hauntingly beautiful—an open cathedral with soaring arches framing views of ancient live oaks and a row of stately brick pillars no longer supporting anything but the sky.

Many photographers find inspiration here. Other visitors find deep spiritual messages--endurance beyond hardship, inner beauty that man cannot destroy, a phoenix rising from the ashes, or god's eternal presence despite man's efforts to deny it a place.

Dick says a good picture tells a story. This church has so many stories to tell that a few hours there hardly turns a page. We will be back.