The Prayer Tree Garden of Blowing Rock, North Carolina

 

Dear Reader:

When Walsh, Mollie, and family were in the mountains last week…they spent one afternoon strolling through the quaint little mountain town of Blowing Rock.

It was there that Mollie sent me a video of the Prayer Tree Garden…it was so beautiful I wanted to know more…so I looked it up yesterday and the story is just as miraculous as the creation of the garden. I felt quite an affinity to it.

Like all good stories…the beginning started with a surprise, followed by an idea, and the perseverance to see the project through to the end. It started on an ordinary afternoon….about two years ago, in 2018.

What started as a bowl of hearts and a pen has since blossomed into nearly 1,000 notes displaying the prayers, hopes and wishes of people in Blowing Rock. The result of this small, outreaching act became what owner Sheri Furman calls The Prayer Tree: A Healing Vine of Hope.

Sheri and her employees placed a bowl of 50 wooden hearts and a pen outside the shop beside a tree adjacent to the cute lavender shop—no sign, no instructions, no example heart.

The bowl of hearts and pen were merely an invitation for people walking by to use. The hearts could have been left alone with no reference for their use, or they could have been written on and stuffed into other shopping backs as a token of remembering the day.

However, within a short time, Sheri rounded the corner to the shop and saw people had been writing their prayers, hopes, or wishes on the hearts and hanging them on the vine and tree beside the shop.

It was the simplest, purest form of an invitation to see what would happen, and soon enough the employees at Take Heart were ripping up sheets of paper just so people could continue writing down their sincere prayers to hang on the tree.

Since then, Take Heart has ordered and used over 500 white tags for people to continue writing their heart’s deepest desires and leave them among what is now nearly 1,000 others.

 

The Prayer Tree has enveloped this corner of Blowing Rock with faith as strangers stop to lift up others, offer encouraging words, or pour out their hearts to the tree. It’s a place to reflect, to connect, to cover each other in prayer.

Men and women, elders and children, healthy and sick, are each stopping to write, to hope, and to pray whether they are going into Take Heart or not. “Some people stop just to pray over the tree or individual cards without even writing their own prayers down,” says Sheri. “It’s not just for the heavy-hearted or for one person. It’s for all of us.”

This message from one child really touched me…this in regard to the boys trapped in that underwater cave in Thailand.

“Dear God…Help the boys in Thailand recover.”

What really made me sad was a second article written last year….apparently Sherri’s shop went up in flames due to an electrical problem….doing serious damage.

 

The whole town was behind her helping and trying to raise money to get it up and going again..

 

…Then …another  miracle…only feet away from the store fire were the paper prayers on the tree and vines…not one prayer was lost! Amazing!

It is strange how one idea can spread quickly when others parts of the puzzle come together. Ashley Burrell had dropped off some fun items for the grand kids after cleaning out their attic…and I just happened to stroll by one bag yesterday… something caught my eye.

It was a little cross with an “H” on it…(for Honey) that she had made on the kiln with a little blue ribbon already attached. Suddenly I had an idea!

*I have that “Swamp Maple” in the back side yard behind the garage which gives that area a lot of privacy. It will be my Prayer Tree...where white tags can be placed on the tree in the form of prayers, hopes, or wishes.

I wrote today’s date on the back of the cross and hung it on the tree. The beginning of another idea for my garden! A benchmark day!

Before we get to some of your COVID “Positives” …I want to acknowledge a few sad events that happened recently.

*Anne lost her sister, Nancy, to breast cancer…she had been in Maine for several days visiting with her and her other sisters who had gathered…Nancy was the first sibling to pass… so it is hard on everyone in the family. Prayers and condolences go out to you Anne and your lovely family during these sad but reflective days.

*Then yesterday I heard that my long-time oncology doctor  (almost a decade) Dr. Robert Silgals, passed away from a rare form of a cancer tumor also.  My wonderful oncology nurse and buddy, Linda Carson, let me know…I truly owe my life to this doctor who calmly followed the course but who also knew when to take risks and try new uncharted detours…it is why I am here now. I will miss you Dr. Silgals!

Here are some  COVID positives from our readers…

  1. Gingi agreed with me on the make-up and daily attire but she said she has, also, talked more with her adult children in the last few months than ever before… since their schedules are lighter too…and loves it!
  2. Dee Lesko said Sunday mornings are much easier/slower at her house since ZOOM can into existence: Zoom Plus- 1. No Sunday morning need for make-up   2. No Sunday morning need for the curling iron and …3. “I can wear to “Sunday Zoom” what I wore to bed Saturday night!!! 🙂
  3. Isaiah Ministries: Ruth said she has paid off her credit cards and can give more now. She has lost weight because they are cooking at home. Lastly, they are not driving a lot, so fewer trips to buy gasoline.
  4. Jo Dufford saw this cartoon and thought it was fitting for our ‘positive’ COVID 19 lighter vibes… I laughed out loud (I confess I am still a late night “Golden Girls” junkie!

 

 

 

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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