Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Family Emergency (update 4) and Pictures of The Rock Chapel

Location: Highway 509 RV Park (El. 275 ft); Mansfield, Louisiana

It has been 25 days since Brandon had his stroke and he continues to improve daily. He can walk unassisted for any distance and his balance while standing is almost to 100%. It is amazing that any of us can stand still when you think about the amount of signals your brain has to tell your leg, foot and body just to maintain your balance. Every muscle, all the way down to the little ones in your toes, are receiving many signals per second to contract or release, just so we don't fall over. His arm and hand is coming along as well but at a slower pace, which was expected and is normal. He is now able to reach and turn the door knob with enough grip strength to open the door. That was impossible just a few days ago. The human body is a wondrous thing. God did a good job, uh? 
This is from last week. Olivia, (who has her Uncle Brandon wrapped around her little finger) got him to push her around in his wheelchair. 
This is again from last week. Olivia and Brandon being pushed by my daughter, Brittanie (Olivia's mother). Brandon didn't need the pushing, but Olivia liked it, so it was done.

Brandon is very hardheaded determined about getting better as soon as possible. He is being cheered along by a couple hundred friends and acquaintances on Facebook. Prayers are being sent up for him by many of those same people. I have seen a lot of great things around this country in my travels, and this is one of them. :)

I was able to drive around for a couple of hours the other day, so I acted as though I was new to the area and went exploring. I have seen almost everything in this area many times over, but this time I wanted to try to see it as if it was the first time. It's hard to do that, but I gave it a try.

First stop was the Rock Chapel. It is located in the town of Carmel, Louisiana which is the town just down the road from me. In the 1880's, a group of Carmelite Monks (yep, that is where the town name comes from) built a monastery in the wooded hills of Northwest Louisiana. A few years later, a group of Nuns showed up and built a convent and a school for girls. 
They all needed a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of monastic/convent living, so they decided to built a small chapel deeper in the woods. They used rocks from around the area for the walls and a couple French Monks painted frescoes on the walls and ceiling. 

When construction finished around 1891 they had created what was to be named, The Rock Chapel. Sadly, over the years, there were two major fires. 
The last fire, in 1904, completely destroyed the monastery, convent and school. Instead of rebuilding, the monks and nuns just left the area and were apparently transferred elsewhere. The only thing that remained was a cemetery and The Rock Chapel. 

Of course as the decades passed without a caretaker, the Chapel fell into disrepair and was nearly lost forever. In the early 1960's, some local people began a restoration campaign to bring the Rock Chapel back to life. They repaired the building, cleared some of the trees/underbrush and placed proper markers for the 6 graves of priests/monks located at the entrance to the building. 

They also asked a local artist, Miss Eugenie Manning, to reclaim the painted frescoes on the ceiling and walls. Using just small pieces of the original work as a guide, she did an excellent job and is remarkable to see. For the next decade or more, the Chapel was open to the public for all to see and enjoy. That changed when vandals started destroying the building and it's furnishings. Satanic symbols were being left around the place. Again, a group of locals cleaned it up and then, regrettably, locked it up. Heavy wooden doors with an iron gate was used to secure the building while a locked gate was placed across the access road about 1/2 mile from the chapel. 

I was very lucky when I dropped by there the other day in that the place was unlocked and I was the only one there. It is a very peaceful place and you could easily imagine the monks and nuns visiting. It is a place where you can refresh your soul.
From the Chapel looking back towards Freedom
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.


  1. Thank you for the information on the chapel and area.. Major congratulations to your son on his progress.

    1. Thanks Barney. I'm glad to see your family visit is going well.

  2. I am very happy to hear your son's rehab is progressing so well. Y'all take care.

  3. Just catching up on your blog, we met in Red Lodge, MT. Sorry to hear about your son but news sounds positive. Your trip is a real inspiration for me.

    1. Hello. I remember you. How is the sewer hose holding up? :)