It’s a well known fact, one of those you learn in grade school, that humans experience life through five senses, taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight. But, I’ve learned a sixth sense exists, and it is absolutely essential for most folks to value an experience. It’s the sense of story. We are hungry for a connection. No matter how beautiful the sound or awe inspiring the view, our experience is richer, and more likely to leave a lasting impression, if we can also share the story, the experiences, the challenges and triumphs of the people, or even the birds and animals who share this old earth with us . No matter how sensory splendid the place, we humans are drawn to the story. What happened here, who to and why?
It’s this sense of story that transforms barren and desolate places into remote and romantic, changes mundane into exciting adventure and drives people to get up at 4 in the morning to eat a breakfast that tastes like smoke from a chuck wagon, watch a bird in the cold pre-dawn air, buy a ticket to listen to a cowboy poet, or trek through an abandoned copper mine.
Luckily, in Knox County we are blessed with an abundance of stories and story tellers. Whether your ambition is to instill in your own family a sense of pride in this place we call home, entertain guests or to inspire others to make Knox County their home, we’ve an abundance of richness in both storied spots and stories to call on.
I’ve been visiting, and collecting the stories of, a few spots here in Knox County, to share with you, in hopes you’ll pass them on. Here’s one of my personal favorites.
Beauty and an inspiring story of the romance between a people and their beliefs, explains the attraction to Knox County’s most unique building, Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church at Rhineland. Molding 6 bricks at a time, the parishioners outlasted the depression, the dust bowl and World War II to achieve their dream. Starting in 1927 and persevering until they had fashioned 80,000 bricks by hand, this community of farmers built, over 24 years, the classic European cathedral, on the Texas plains. Finally completed in 1951, the church with its hand carved gothic alter and classic archetecturial details hosts worshipers every week and welcomes guests both during services and for tours. The sun shining through stained glass is physically a thing of beauty and spiritually a testament to the dedication and persistence of people with a purpose. The closeness of the community, almost a 120 years after it was established as a mission colony, is testament to the power of a shared goal. The story of how this small congregation of farmers met the challenges of life as immigrants, endured the split of their population to start the new towns of Windthorst and Nazareth, and still retained the strength, determination and inspiration to envision, much less complete, this massive project renews my faith in our ability to overcome obstacles to our vision for the future in Knox County.
I’d suggest a drive out to Rhineland, and a few minutes contemplation, the next time you feel overwhelmed by your own challenges and impossible schedule of tasks to be completed.