Dear Jack: Our 1st Father and Son Road Trip- Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel (in the 2016 Lexus ES 300h)

5 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Father and Son Road Trip- Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel (in the 2016 Lexus ES Hybrid)

Dear Jack,

Right before we crossed over from Mentone to Fort Payne, Alabama, I surprised you by parking the Lexus ES 300h at an old church that is built around a giant rock; which is named Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Father and Son Road Trip- Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel (in the 2016 Lexus ES Hybrid)

It was built back in 1937, when Colonel Milford Howard constructed the chapel as a memorial to his wife. And equally interesting is the fact his ashes are inside the rock itself, as his sort of burial place.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Father and Son Road Trip- Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel (in the 2016 Lexus ES Hybrid)

Another fascinating thing about “Howard’s Chapel” is that the doors are never locked. That means that travelling passersby from DeSoto State Park can visit it at their convenience. This fact is openly promoted on the sign.

A couple Christmases back, I took you there with Uncle Andrew and Papa. However, you told me you don’t remember that.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Father and Son Road Trip- Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel (in the 2016 Lexus ES Hybrid)

So it was like a brand new experience for you this time. I believe I was about your age when I first became aware of this chapel.

It’s such a rare thing- to be able to walk inside an old church with a giant rock inside, which contains the builder’s ashes. Seriously, how many people can say they actually have been there and seen the inside?

Dear Jack: Our 1st Father and Son Road Trip- Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel (in the 2016 Lexus ES Hybrid)

I bet most people have never even heard of it, outside of my hometown. It’s just so tucked away.

You were obviously fascinated. I’m sure it seemed like a bizarre dream to you. But it was all real… I was there too with you.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Father and Son Road Trip- Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel (in the 2016 Lexus ES Hybrid)

And to think, I just grew up a few miles from there.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Father and Son Road Trip- Ghostbusters and The BFG (in the 2016 Lexus ES Hybrid)

The next stop on our father and son trip: The Azalea Trail at DeSoto State Park. But first, on the way there, I decided it would be cool to show you that little brick house I grew up in… coming up next.

Love,

Daddy

P.S.

Here’s the collection of stories from our father and son road trip…

Ghostbusters and the BFG

Nick A Jack Road

Cloudland Canyon State Park

Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel

Azalea Cascade Trail at DeSoto State Park

2016 Lexus ES 300h Father & Son Road Trip (Table of Contents)

Dear Jack: Our 1st Father and Son Road Trip- Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel (in the 2016 Lexus ES Hybrid)

Screen Door on an Open Mind

I think, therefore I am open-minded.

Before, I always thought that being open-minded meant I would personally accept any new idea that came along, so I distanced myself from the phrase. “Open-minded” was a description for a person with no backbone, so flaky regarding their worldview that they would accept anything fully; never really being able to believe in any certain deity whom they could actually know personally, because being open-minded meant they believed “God is in the trees and the wind and the animals and in all of us”.

But somewhere in between never adopting solid personal beliefs and being so unchangeably stubborn because “this is the way it’s always been done and I ain’t changin’ now” is a balance. I’ve come to realize that while there are certain things I am rock solid on, there are other aspects that I was wrong or misinformed about before. For example, in recent years regarding the relationship between my religious and political beliefs, I have definitely become more conservative on certain issues and more liberal on others. Yet I still know what I stand for.

Being open-minded means living a paradox. It means a person has confirmed the Big Stuff (a moral code, religion, etc.) but is open to the millions of things that don’t necessarily go against what is set in stone. And while people everyday are still sorting out the Big Stuff, there should come a certain point for everyone where they actually decide on something. It’s a necessary rite of passage that makes us who we are.

Speaking of a word that many often keep a distance from: faith. It’s amazing how there’s no escaping from needing to have faith in something. Whether it’s faith in no god, a god, science, tradition or “don’t know, don’t care”, people make their decision even in their indecision.

I have figured out the Big Stuff for me. Other than that, I’m learning the rest everyday. The door of my mind is open, though the screen in front of it is secured in place.

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” –traditional proverb