Finding our Personal “Hallowed Ground”

Dear Reader:

Mike and Honey Burrell had a local artist, Carolyn Demotest Serrano, do this beautiful art work (pen and ink drawing) for my birthday in September 2010, following my first visit to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope in Trust, North Carolina… where my life completely changed on a hot July day of that year.

From the moment I walked into the little chapel I felt the presence, the spirit of Beverly Barutio, the founder and creator of the chapel. Like me, she was a woman living with cancer who had been given an extension on her life after prayers to God and St. Jude.

In return she had this chapel erected for everyone to pause in their lives and thank God for everything He had given each… health challenges and all.

Aren’t there just some places on earth that we sense immediately are on hallowed ground? It might not mean the same thing for everyone but when we find our “spot” it certainly means something to us.

Lincoln consecrated and dedicated the battlefield at Gettysburg during his famous address ….stating it was on “Hallowed Ground.”  He could feel the voices there from the departed and he knew he must not fail them with his own words to convey the appreciation that everyone should feel for their ultimate sacrifice on that gray afternoon  in November of 1863.

It was only later that the story came out that Lincoln excused himself before the ceremony and walked off into the woods, alone, to the forest that outlined the battlefield. When an aide sought him (to let him know it was time to go to the platform) he found the President kneeling in prayer.

This story was passed down from generation to generation in the aide’s family until a sculptor, upon hearing it, sculpted the kneeling President and today it is found in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Every time I visit St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope I, too, feel like I am on hallowed ground. But it is even more tangible than that….I feel like I am coming home again… and it is time to fall on my knees in thanksgiving.

The little stream that runs behind the chapel babbles its welcoming sound, the chapel serenely nods and ushers (gently holding my hand)  me back in. And the spirit of Beverly Barutio, the creator and owner of the chapel, seems to smile in relief and joy that I am well enough to return again.

The little chapel in the woods is my refuge from the storms of life. A place of renewal and hope. A place of faith and trust. A place of prevailing peace.

I can feel it calling me again….it always starts with a soft urging that crescendos into a stronger voice letting me know it is time to return and rest my body, soul, and spirit. This July will be the tenth anniversary of discovering my “Hallowed Ground.” (Thank you Honey!)

I do believe it was a God’s Wink that I “accidentally” came across the little poem I wrote in appreciation and tribute to my sacred place several years ago…a reminder that there is a “Balm in Gilead” and a special one in Trust, North Carolina for me.

 

“A Chapel in the Woods”

(By Becky Dingle)

 

There is a chapel in the woods

A refuge from the storm

A place that offers love and hope

… When one feels lost and torn.

 

There is a chapel in the woods

In a little town called Trust

A place that offers solace

When hopes have turned to dust.

 

There is a chapel in the woods

A promise built for God

A place that heals our heart and soul

… A gentle spirit’s nod.

 

There is a chapel in the woods

For you to take a peek

And feel St. Jude’s healing touch

Come find the peace you seek!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

So until tomorrow…find your place of refuge and remember to return to it periodically to restore your strength and soul.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

A collage of memories from St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope

*You might remember my first grandchild, Eva Cate, was born in April of 2010 so I didn’t want to leave her when Honey first called in July to invite me to go see this unforgettable chapel …It was only with a lot of persuasion from Mike and Honey that I took (what would turn out to be my pilgrimage) to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope.

There were lots of ‘trinkets’ left on the altar as tokens from people who had stopped by the chapel in their travels. I decided to leave one of the most precious gifts behind- a photo of me, Mandy, and little Eva Cate, on that hot July day a decade ago…  with the inscription from poet William Blake:

“Love is the child who shares our breath; Love is the child who scatters death.”-William Blake

Almost a decade later and I am still here…celebrating  Eva Cate’s 10th birthday…the miracles of life…the importance of “hallowed ground.” To this date the original photo has withstood heat, cold, damp…and is still visible to visitors entering the chapel.

*Donna and Sam Clark’s gift to me (that sits over my computer)…is a framed photo of the cross only yards away from the chapel…containing the words that have always been so comforting to me.

 

A few yards in another direction…is a little “spot” called Luck, NC…it takes about three seconds to ride past it…You’re “in luck” and then you are “out of luck.” Such is life! 🙂

Hallowed Places are best shared with friends…to go with you to the your symbolic birth place… where life began again.

*** Jake found his “hallowed ground” yesterday…he rode his bike for the first time without any training wheels & without any falls…just Jake and the open road…well street…but he was one happy five year old…master of his bike and destiny!

 

 

*** I was looking through a keepsake box yesterday when I discovered the amazing birthday card Beverly Parkinson made for me several years ago.

She is so talented and her cards are in local stores around her hometown in Mississippi and on-line. She sent me a homemade 3-D “Big Red” birthday card.

Isn’t it beautiful? She even created the brick colors on my porch behind “Big Red.”

 

I texted Beverly to thank her again and see how she and her family were doing at home during this pandemic…she sent me the most beautiful picture of a bowl of day lilies she had arranged. I told her I could only imagine a card with them on it in 3-D….astoundingly beautiful.

Here is the photo of the bowl of day lilies she sent…they don’t last long but as Edna St. Vincent Millay said so eloquently….

My candle burns at both ends;It will not last the night;But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—It gives a lovely light!’

 

 

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 our Personal “Hallowed Ground”

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    I remember all of this beautiful story of love …faith and hope…and also our trip to find this very special chapel. We were about to turn around in the unknown territory and then we saw the word “Luck”and we knew we were in the right place. What a miraculous story it has. Ern since you went to this “hallowed place” …love you and so thankful…

    Like

    • Becky Dingle says:

      I need to stop and remember my story on different occasions so I never take it for granted and get caught up in the routine of daily life…forgetting all the miracles that have transpired to keep me keeping on.

      Like

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