The sky turned dark. The winds picked up.
A woman scurried to take refuge. She asked if the chapel was open.
Chapel staff members are following the restrictions put into place by U.S. President Donald Trump and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. All visitors must maintain social distancing of six feet, with the overall number of guests limited.
For information, call 479-855-6598.
"Yes, ma'am," Cindy Adams, the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel director, told her.
"I had to get here before the thunderstorm came," the visitor said.
As the driving rain loomed, the visitor sought out a place among the pines for solitude and comfort.
Adams believes the visitor's recent personal tragedy compelled her to come to the chapel.
She must have felt she could connect best with her loved one there.
"I almost get chills when I think about it," Adams said.
The chapel, which celebrated its 32nd anniversary in April, was built by John A. Cooper Sr. as a tribute to his late wife, Mildred B. Cooper.
The chapel overlooks Lake Norwood, tucked within the beauty of Bella Vista.
With its famed and unique architecture by E. Fay Jones, the chapel is open year-round to visitors as a treasure to the community. The Cooper Family Foundation, which oversees the chapel, wants to continue its normal operation, Adams said.
Locals continue to find peace at the chapel, especially during the covid-19 pandemic. Visitors are limited to 10 at any particular time, following guidelines.
Many seek solitude and comfort in this time of unrest, Adams said.
"People have said, "I had to come here.'"
One guest wrote, "I am grateful for this Chapel. It provides peace and tranquility that is so needed now."
"Peace in a world of chaos," another wrote.
Still another visitor penned, "Instant calm and peace."
The chapel's symbol of hope is critical during this time, Adams believes.
Adams took her grandson to the chapel on Easter Sunday, opening the doors at 6:30 that morning.
With churches closed, the chapel remained the only one open for those to pray and reflect.
Adams felt the chapel should be opened early that day.
"Mary went to the tomb at daybreak," she said.
When spring blooms such as redbud and dogwood dot the landscape with beautiful color, Adams is usually scheduling numerous weddings to take place at the chapel.
Tour buses filled with visitors are the norm.
Now, the pandemic and restrictions in place have changed the schedule.
Adams oversaw two weddings in April, while rescheduling 15 of 21, just for the month.
Four weddings on the books have totally canceled, with money returned.
Buses are not lined up.
Still, keeping the chapel open has created an opportunity that local folks embrace.
The staff has not changed the chapel's hours or days of operation.
The chapel's hours remain the same -- 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.
If a wedding or other special event is taking place, signs will be posted as such.
During this time, staff members have focused on trimming, landscaping, preparing to have all the chapel's windows washed, erecting new signage, and installing new parking lot lights.
"We have made a lot of improvements," Adams said.
Staff members also are cleaning and sanitizing a great deal.
Once health conditions improve, Adams believes that numerous visitors will once again travel to the chapel.
The chapel's unique solitude and beauty call out to others. People continue to seek that serenity.
"People come here who have traveled to chapels in Spain, Brazil and Australia," Adams said.
Their experience in Bella Vista, among the dogwoods and pine trees, has resounded with them.
"They have said, 'I feel something different here.'"
General News on 05/06/2020
Print Headline: Cooper Chapel: Finding Peace Within The Storm