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Untouched prayers

It;s not yet known how much of the structure can be saved. Scores of community members — and customers of the boutique — helped with the cleanup on Thursday.

By David Rogers. June 27, 2019. BLOWING ROCK, NC — In every tragedy, we can only hope to find a silver lining. Clinging to a pair of scorched, tattered and blackened American flags that prompted images of a battle-scarred Fort McHenry and the Star Spangled Banner, on Thursday Sheri Furman stood in front of the charred remains of her iconic Main Street boutique, Take Heart.  It didn’t take her long to find an inspiring rose among the thorns.

COVER IMAGE: The charred, hollowed out inside of the popular Main Street boutique reminds all Blowing Rock residents and business owners of the dangers that come with aging buildings. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.

This is the inside wall of the building — closest to the prayer tree and garden.

About 5:00 pm on Wednesday, an electrical spark from a utilities box at the back of the store ignited a fire that quickly consumed the store inventory and blackened the inside walls of the quaint, lavender and white wooden building.

Flames leaped out the front windows and doorway as two employees rushed outside to safety. The fire teased, but never touched the ever present “prayer tree” on the south side of the building.

Mere inches to the left of this prayer tree, flames engulfed the Take Heart building. And yet, not a single prayer submitted by so many was lost to the fire.

“Hundreds of people from all over the world have stopped and written down a prayer for someone or some thing, often even for their own healing, and hung that prayer on our tree,” an obviously work-weary Furman managed with a faint smile to Blowing Rock News. “The fire was jumping out of the windows, right next to all of those prayers. Not one of them was touched. As much damage as there was to the store and our inventory, God surely had a hand in the preservation of our messages to Him.”

Scores of people from the Blowing Rock community have reached out to help one of their own since Wednesday’s fire all but destroyed the little “house” next door to First Citizens Bank, across from Town Hall. Too many to name, most of whom we didn’t even recognize because they were out of down customers who cherish Furman’s spirit and bemoan the tragic loss.

Devoted friends from the community were quick to shift the burden of cleaning up and dispassionately facing the tasks at hand. Ray and Melissa Pickett of Blowing Rock Inn were there, as was Blowing Rock Market owner David Barker, helping to carry the smoke damaged and burned goods outside that just the day before had colorfully filled the shelves and racks, for sale. The back of pickup trucks were filled with damaged goods, the unmistakable after-smell of an unwanted fire hanging in the air to remind passers-by of what had happened.

Once destined to adorn the ear lobes of fair young damsels, another fate awaits these charred earrings.

Love offerings are being accepted to a Bless Your Heart Fund at First Citizens Bank. The bank can accept cash or checks made payable to Bless Your Heart Fund. The mailing address is First Citizens Bank, P O Box 268, Blowing Rock, NC 28605

The rush of water from firemen’s hoses may well have washed away the colorful pastel pink, orange, yellow and blue hearts that were chalked on the pavement of Maple Street, leading down from Take Heart to the old Ice House where Furman maintains a sister store, a seasonally open annex, but they hardly could have washed away Blowing Rock’s outpouring of love for Furman in the wake of the fire — nor the inspiring, surely Heaven-sent preservation of untouched prayers.



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