Encouraging messages and prayers dangle from the branches of a tree in Blowing Rock, representing a seedling of hope in the High Country. A small white cart sits next to the tree with a pen and a bowl of blank heart-shaped tags. The heart-shaped tags hang on the prayer tree, located on the corner of Maple Street and Main Street, and invite passersby to write down thoughts of inspiration and encouragement.
Sheri Furman, manager of Take Heart Boutique, started the prayer tree.
In summer 2019, the quaint lavender shop on 1009 Maine St. burned down in a fire caused by an electric spark in the 100-year-old building. A few feet away, flames from the shop’s windows threatened the tree, but it remained unscathed.
No prayers were damaged in the fire.
The prayer tree has rooted itself in the Blowing Rock community since July 2018 and is a symbol of hope, inviting people to write down their prayers and become vulnerable.
Vines on the prayer tree are showered with tags, and a majority of the tags hang from a vine that leads into a garden that acts as an extension of the prayer tree.
Some people approach the tree to pray over it, or prayer requests they find while in the garden.
Kat Staufer, a passerby, paused when she walked past the tree and began to read the prayers scribbled on the heart shaped tags. Staufer grew up in Boone, so when asked what she thought the tree added to the community, she quickly replied.
“It adds a way for people to get their feelings out in a peaceful way,” Staufer said. “It really allows for people to feel like someone’s listening.”