Today, August 7, 2018 is the eighth anniversary of the creation of the Chapel of Hope Stories blog! Isn’t life amazing? I hoped… but was wary of even the remote possibility… that I would still be here to celebrate an occasion like this…Right now I am deliriously happy !!!
It all began, with lots of trepidation and shakiness, into this new unknown frontier for me via a device called a blog. I held my breath, August 7, 2010, when I finished the first post, took a large gulp, and, hesitantly, hit send on my computer (the same computer I am using today.)
My favorite son-in-law- John (old joke since he is my only son-in-law) set up the blog for me with family pictures and St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope photos… adding all kinds of additional assets. When he finished he told me …”It’s ready...Okay… Just start typing.”
And to date I have never stopped.
Here are some excerpts from the first original post…
Every journey needs a starting point and every journey has a story. This is mine. Two years ago, three weeks after my daughter Mandy’s wedding, I was diagnosed with a treatable (but not usually curable) breast cancer. Since then life has been a roller coaster ride, both emotionally and physically… but here I am entering my story on a “blog” that I didn’t even know existed two years ago when first diagnosed.
So life is good-you never know what is just around the turn in the road! I can honestly say that I have had more “wondrous” moments in the last two years than all the years leading up to it. Life is funny that way. I think the difference is my ability to recognize these God Wink moments now.
…When you arrive at this little chapel, it looks like a slightly enlarged doll house. It is built beside a beautiful little stream that surrounds the entire area. If a brook can “babble”-then this one does…slow, soothing, and melodious. Wild flowers and butterflies are all in abundance. The butterflies seem to be dancing for the sheer joy of simply being alive.
The fresh smell of cut green grass after a rain envelopes your senses. Is there a better smell in the world? Perhaps someone should make a perfume of it. Opposite the chapel lies a rugged wooden cross upon a large stone. A plaque reads: Fear Not Tomorrow-Jesus is already there. I find that inscription particularly comforting these days…
Looking back on my first visit to the little chapel in the woods with Honey Burrell…I was so over-whelmed with the felt presence of the cancer owner, Beverly Barutio’s spirit, that I wanted to let the little chapel know this visit was going to change the direction of my life. But what could I leave to express this gift of hope and thankfulness. What was the most important thing I could leave?
(excerpt from August 7, 2010)
…”I only had my pocketbook with me so what could I leave behind to explain what this experience had meant to me? What was a gift that I could leave…what was something very precious to me?
My eyes fell upon a pacifier (binky) that someone had left on the altar and then I knew. I opened my pocketbook and took out a picture of myself, my daughter Mandy, and my most cherished gift of all…my new granddaughter Eva Cate. My first grandchild.
It is Eva Cate who has given me so much joy that I fight hard to see and spend another day with this beautiful gift of life. On the back of the picture I wrote: “Love is the child who shares our breath; Love is the child who scatters death.”-William Blake
(To date this picture has survived the test of time since leaving it July 26, 2010…with no air-conditioning or heating…it is always on the front altar (though many other, older pictures get removed to drawers or boxes after long periods of time); it shows some wear…but still visible and a reminder of that momentous day I was lead to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope.)
As you can see I was sporting a brunette “look” back when the blog began…isn’t it miraculous how one’s “do” can go blond so fast? 🙂 This picture is dated August 12, 2010
*I never knew then that I would be blessed with four more precious grandchildren…God is so good to me! From Eva Cate to Eloise (who is just a few months older than Eva Cate was when I first visited St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope.) *Now Eva Cate is eight and Eloise…soon to be eight months.
*(With three grandsons…squeezed in the middle between the girls!) Rutledge, Jakie, and Lachlan
My original intent was to base the blog on correspondence from visitors to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope…I left sheets in a box with all my information on it…urging visitors to share a picture of the trinket they left behind or a story or a hope. It never happened…I might have gotten 3 responses.
There are lots of plausible reasons for this: there is a limited seasonal time to get to the chapel safely, it is hard to find the chapel (most people happen upon it by accident) and finally it is a personal pilgrimage and/or reflection time and something not necessarily privy for others’ eyes or ears.
I think this was the biggest ‘fork in the road’ decision. If I was not going to be able to base my blog on others’ reflections and feelings about the little chapel…then I was pretty much on my own to come up with a blog all by myself. (I admit it was a huge leap of faith to take this path, alone, but now I know we are never alone. God is looking over my shoulder every single day as I type away!)
Before closing past reflections and stories of new beginnings…let me share some of Beverly Barutio’s family responses to the blog over the years. Beverly’s husband, Bill, has sent me a book of poems Beverly wrote and he has also given me his blessings with using the chapel as the anchor for the blog on everyday watches for the God Winks in life. The family has been so supportive. Here are some of their responses:
Jessica- Beverly’s grand-daughter
Christina Petersen (grand-daughter) says:
John LaBarbera (son) says:
I do love our blog family and my heart bursts with joy at all the friends I have made (I never would have known) if I didn’t find the courage to try something scary one, hot August day in 2010. (Eight years ago to the day) “Scary” has brought me untold benefits of support and encouragement from so many of you. I have no doubt it has, also, helped me through all the low points of my many diversified treatments to date.
*Did you notice (at the beginning of the first blog) that I didn’t address you as Dear Reader: I just started writing? The blog has evolved a lot (along with me) since I started writing and slowly I realized that there is no blog without the reader…YOU are the “Dears” that make the time spent on each post the best part of the day.
I never write alone…each of you is inside me helping me find the message you need for a certain day or a certain time….like the Native -American proverb says:
“It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story.”
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh