Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pretty Place

Day 15-laugh
But I'm going with the word pretty instead. No kidding.

Day 15-pretty

For the past few years I've periodically taken note of the most gorgeous online photographs people post of a chapel in the woods called Pretty Place.

Let's just discuss the name for a minute. How can you hear about a chapel in the woods called Pretty Place, and not want to see it for yourself?

You can't.

The chapel is officially the Fred W. Symmes Chapel, but everyone I know calls it Pretty Place. It's part of the YMCA Camp Greenville, which is not technically in Greenville, but GPS got us there anyway. More or less. The chapel was built in 1941, and improvements have been made through the years.

Not to the view though...

The view cannot be improved.

I was really curious about Mr. Symmes, and looked him up when we got home. He was an accomplished businessman and a generous soul. As I sat in the chapel bearing his name, I thought about his legacy. I thought about all the men, women and children who'd sat in this very spot and been moved to tears by the staggering beauty of God's creation.

I thought about all the prayers lifted up in this sacred space and marveled at how sometimes all we need to remember the greatness of God is a front row seat to His magnificent handiwork. A place to turn off the noise and soak in the wonder.

The chapel itself is a simple building, open on three sides, with benches set in rows before a plain wooden cross.

The building is stone, but it's not really about the building. It's about this...

It's about sitting in this quiet space set deep in the woods on the side of a mountain, and feeling like you've glimpsed a tiny piece of heaven. It's about the way your soul sings when you enter here.

We live only about 30 miles from Pretty Place, but it takes nearly an hour to get up there. I'd asked several people I know here in town if they'd ever been, and those who'd seen it said we should absolutely go, do not miss it. They also added prepare to be carsick.

But still go because Pretty Place is a pretty special place.

I read a lot of reviews online, and every single reviewer spoke about the chapel with reverence. Most suggested you try to get there for the sunrise, and when I mentioned this to hubs he was all in. I told him about the wind-y, curvy mountain road up, and he said we could take our time, and that's what we did.

Bless him, because I know he would have so loved to whip the car around some of the hairpin turns we met en route.

The weather people said the sun would rise at precisely 7:34 AM, and since we didn't know where we were going precisely, and it was going to be dark, and we weren't going to fly up the mountain, we decided to leave home at 5:30.

We packed coffee and bagels and hard boiled eggs, and I took my Dramamine and off we went. I was wearing a fleece, and at the last minute hubs suggested I grab my heavier coat. Shout out to hubs, because do you know what it's like on a mountainside at o'dark thirty in mid-October?

It's windy! And cold!
But Pretty Place is so pretty you don't even care.

We didn't see any signs pointing the way until we were on the camp property. Even then it was just a single simple marker saying Pretty Place with an arrow aimed towards the road. We followed it to the end, and came to a locked gate.

It was really dark and we were anxious that we'd made the trip up and were going to miss what we came for, so we turned around and went back to the main camp area to see if we'd missed something. No, the locked gate was the way in.

We parked on the side of the road, and walked up a short distance before coming to a parking lot which is where you'd normally park. I was glad I'd read beforehand that you drove to the end of the road, and that the building doesn't look like much until you're right up on it.

No worries though...

We didn't miss a minute.

"And one called to another and said: 
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: 
the whole earth is full of His glory!" Isaiah 6:3


  1. What a great way to start your day.

  2. How beautiful! I can only just imagine viewing such a scene in magnificent is our God! i imagine you floated through the rest of your day! lol Thanks for sharing....

  3. Joyce that is so beautiful! I've seen a picture from there, but I didn't know where it was. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Gaaaaahhhh! My mouth is open and my heart skipped a beat and I think I just stopped breathing for a moment. That place, even in PICTURES, has a holy beauty about it. A reverent tranquility. I simply must go there so shall put it on my next 101 list, along with a note to take Dramamine. Heights and hairpin turns and my hubby's driving don't mix well. Thanks for the post and all the tips. God's artistry cannot be adequately described.

  5. Oh. My. Gawd. Most beautiful place I've seen in a while. I MUST get there to photograph it....altho your pics are awesome! WOW.....I'm verclempt. Thank you for sharing this with us!
    Pretty Place.....Perfect Name.

  6. Wow...what a beautiful, beautiful scene! Heavenly Father is the best artist, isn't He? This looks like the perfect place for a wedding or vow renewal. :)

  7. Oh my. That is gorgeous. Visiting Pretty Place was on your list a few posts ago, so I looked it up. Since DH and I travel through Spartanburg on our way to/from Hilton Head, I thought that perhaps we should plan to take a side trip to see Pretty Place on one of our trips. Seeing your pictures has confirmed that we definitely should!

  8. Definitely a nice place to be in meditation and peace. The scene is beautiful. Nothing like being with nature to be closer to your Maker.

  9. These photos are so breathtaking. Reading your post and looking at the photos made me feel like I was there. I just can't get my imagination around it's actual beauty though. Wish I could see it in real life but this will certainly have to do. Thank you so much for this.

  10. Wow, I was waiting for this, Joyce after you shared about this on the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Beautiful.
    A lovely post as well. And amazing photos.

  11. Wow! How beautiful! I Can Only Imagine! I would love to see this...maybe one day! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Oh my. What a wonderful experience. I'm sure any prayers said there get to Heaven faster because that breathtaking beauty opens your heart and soul to God's Grace.

  13. Wow! I have chills. So beautiful. I'd love to visit one day.