My wife and I recently had a chance to visit a town in our neighboring state of Arkansas where we stayed for a night in Eureka Springs. Eureka Springs is probably best known for its mineral springs that have been touted to have healing properties. Today there is only one active spring in the area since the remainder of them have been capped off by the city fathers because of high sulphur content and bacteria. If you want to find more active mineral springs you would have to travel to the south a few hundred miles to Hot Springs, Arkansas.
There is still a lot to do in the area with many restaurants and hotels lining the main roads through town. There are also some great pieces of architecture and sites to see in the area like the one below. This is the Thorncrown Chapel which was built in 1980.
Jim Reed, a retired schoolteacher and native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas wanted to build a glass chapel in the woods to give others a place to relax and reflect in an inspiring way. That he did!
The structure is 48 feet tall and has 425 windows with over 6000 square feet of glass. It sits on top of 100 tons of native stone and colored flagstone. It is the winner of the AIA – American Institute of Architecture’s Design of the Year Award for 1981 and the AIA Design of the Decade Award for the 1980’s. It was voted fourth on the AIA list of the top buildings of the twentieth century and is called “one of the finest religious spaces of modern times.” The building was designed by E. Fay Jones, an Arkansan architect who was mentored by well-known architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
E. Fay Jones designed the structure so that no structural element is larger than what two men could carry through the woods. This was done to preserve the natural setting that surrounds Thorncrown Chapel.
As the story goes – “Half way through the project, funds began to run out. Soon the building process ground to a halt. Jim began to believe he had made the biggest mistake of his life. He desperately tried to raise the necessary funds to complete his dream, but all of his efforts failed. Finally, one evening Jim took what he thought would be one last walk down to his half-finished chapel. He would take one last look and never return. Then the unexpected happened. Describing his experience Jim said, “I am not proud of the fact, but the first time I ever got down on my knees was on the chapel floor. I prayed more seriously than ever before. All the trials and tribulations gave me the humility to get on my knees.” That evening Jim reached the end of himself, but soon found that God’s kindness had just begun. A few days later, a generous woman from Illinois provided a loan, allowing Jim to finish his dream. On July 10, 1980, Thorncrown Chapel opened. Since that time more than 6 million people from all over the world have visited Thorncrown Chapel.” As I sat in the beautiful chapel there this last week with my wife, I sensed something very special. There was a special peace in that chapel, and the presence of GOD. Thorncrown is indeed a very unique and extraordinary place.
When we come to a place in our life where we don’t know what to do, the best place to be is on our knees before GOD. It is there that GOD will be waiting for us in that special place and will fill us up with his peace. It is when we reach the end of ourselves that we find the beginning of GOD.