I re-discovered two precious pieces of correspondence I remembered and/or received on the first anniversary of the Chapel of Hope Stories August 7, 2011. The first was an historical story originally told by Robert Todd Lincoln (I told my students) and the second a wonderful note by Bill Barutio, husband of Beverly, who together turned the dream of a little chapel in the mountains into reality. St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope.
One day a young man was waiting on a platform in an underground train station in Washington, DC. Just moments before the train arrived he slipped and fell onto the tracks. The crowd gasped in horror but one man reacted quickly to the situation.
Grabbing the railing he leaned down and pulled the young man up with just seconds to spare. The crowd began applauding as the rescuer quickly disappeared into the throng. But not before he was recognized…”That’s Edwin Booth!” “Yes, that was him…the actor…John Wilkes Booth’s brother!”
Startled the young man whose life had just been spared asked the crowd if they were sure that was Edwin Booth. Several people vigorously nodded their heads. Suddenly…another voice rang out…”Aren’t you Robert Todd Lincoln…Abraham Lincoln’s son?”
Robert quickly nodded and then scurried out of the crowd leaving an amazed group of people shaking their heads.
(Robert Todd Lincoln on the left….Edwin Booth on the right)
A couple of days later there was a knock at the door of Edwin Booth. A courier stood there with a letter in his hand. Edwin slowly took it and sat down in the parlor. Pictures of him and his famous family of actors hung on the walls. But Edwin had not acted since April 14, 1865 – over three years ago. How could he when his brother had killed the President? How could he face an audience again? He had become somewhat of a recluse.
But now as he opened the letter and began to read Edwin Booth’s whole demeanor slowly changed. The letter read:
Dear Mr. Booth,
Let me introduce myself. My name is Robert Todd Lincoln, eldest son of former President Abraham Lincoln. It was I who slipped and fell two days ago in the train station. You saved my life.
There are few times in life when the scales of justice come full circle and balance, and sir, we have both witnessed just that. The way I look at it…one Booth killed a Lincoln- one Booth saved a Lincoln.
Thank you sir for your courage and quick actions which resulted in my life being spared. I hope to see you again on stage…you are quite a talented actor.
All is forgiven.
Robert Todd Lincoln
*Edwin Booth kept the letter next to his heart when he returned to the stage and a glorious career…and it was buried with him when he died. After all it had given him his life back.
The power of a letter. There are many of us today, of a certain generation, who bemoan and lament the loss art of written correspondence or (snail mail.) There is something so intimate about finding a stack of letters with a ribbon tied around them. Most of the time the writer’s heart and soul, dreams and goals, can be found within the writings.
Still (six months into the blog’s beginning)….when I got this email from Bill Barutio letting me know he approved of the blog’s by-line and infrastructure, using St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope as the anchor for the daily posts, I felt like putting a big pink bow around my computer. I was so relieved he felt that I was honoring Beverly the way he would like her story to be told!
Even though the stories deal with everyday life within a wide diversity of topics and subjects… while recognizing people who turn the ordinary into extraordinary (like the Barutios)… hopefully all the stories reflect Beverly’s positive outlook and attitude towards life… In her eyes her cancer was just an “annoyance”...certainly nothing to deter one’s life dreams.
Mon, 11 April 2011
Last month I searched “Trust, NC’ on Google to try to get an update on events in that special spot that we called home for almost 20 years. I was directed to your blog, read the archives, and was inspired to contact you. Thank you for your eloquent and heartfelt entries that describe the sense that Beverly’s spirit of hope and courage are palpable in the little chapel and its setting.
I was saddened to read that, as Beverly used to say, the “annoyance of cancer” has altered your life again. Please maintain your positive attitude. My wife, Nancy, and I are praying for you. We will also ask our friend, St. Jude, to intercede on your behalf.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any other help.
Thank you for your tributes to Beverly and for your promotion of the chapel. Beverly always believed that the chapel would have a “life of its own.” I am sure that she is smiling down on your efforts to assure that it does.
With thanks and prayers for a speedy recovery,
Very truly yours,
So until tomorrow…Whenever I feel down…I pull this letter out ( I ran off a hard copy of the email on my printer) and re-read it. I really needed to hear that Beverly’s family was behind this project of love in memory of her on-going spirit and the little chapel she left us all. Getting this affirmation, this letter of endorsement and encouragement, was exactly what I needed to hear that first year out while finding my way through a new frontier of technology.
I keep a hard copy next to my desk and a memorized one in my heart…now and forever.
“Sometimes I just look up, smile and say, “I knew that was YOU, GOD! Thanks!” *Because of you Beverly…the God Winks just keep on coming! Another day, another story.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
***BLOG UPDATE STATUS
I want to re-explain the Facebook situation to my wonderful blog readers again, since some of you must have missed my earlier explanation two weeks ago. As of August 1 Facebook has ceased allowing free publication of individual (WordPress) bloggers’ posts. Apparently there were talks between both organizations but nothing was settled so this avenue of free publication is closed.
So until (hopefully) the situation changes if you would like to be able to read my blog daily…simply sign in under followers on my blog page (Look on the right column) put in your email address and you should receive the blog post daily in your emails. You can also google chapel of hope stories…and each day’s post will pull up at the top of the page.
Supposedly if a blogger switches from their Profile Page to a Facebook Page…the publication on Facebook will once more be accessible to Facebook readers. However…I got Izzy to come see if he could work through that transition for me and he could not figure it out…and he is the computer expert. ***But if any of you understand the problem and can help transition the blog over to a new Facebook page (not profile page)…let me know and I will be glad for you to come show me on my desktop.
We talk so much on the blog about accepting change…but these kind of tech changes are tough if we don’t understand the technology to fix it. (Quite honestly I think it should have been fixed by the higher-uppers and not left to us poor (bottom of the food chain) bloggers to figure it out.) Hopefully it will all sort itself out….thanks for your patience…I am having to work at it a lot from my end…patience that is 🙂