Sunday, 29th July 2012
The Hallelujah Square is the artwork found at the center of the sanctuary. When Sam Butcher started working on the Chapel, he reflected on what he might draw on that massive wall that would demonstrate his purpose for building the Chapel and at the same time it would also show his personal beliefs. Sam Butcher expressed in his own words, "I realized that the seeds of the scene I finally chose to portray there were first planted many years before when I heard a young boy sing an old gospel song called 'Hallelujah Square.' Thus mural illustrates my personal belief that within the heart of each of us lies the hope of Jesus Christ."
When his son Philip died on 1990 due to a car accident, Sam became more compassionate to those who had lost loved ones. Then he started to place a few real persons to the painting after he heard their touching stories. This is the most inspiring mural I've ever seen. When I stood before the painting, examined each people and after hearing all those stories from the tour guide, I can't help myself to get teary-eyed. I was touched and I suddenly remember my dear departed loved ones. With so many angels on the murals, I spent some time trying to find some little angels that would represent them. Then I saw one angel displaying the welcome sign in reverse position. Then I said to myself, that could be my Papa. Because I always remember him to be funny and a people person. It was not tears of sorrow, but it was happy tears knowing that they are in the perfect place and have found new joy.
Here are few stories that inspired Sam Butcher:
Zachary - This story was told by a grandfather who was so angry when he learned that his grandson died and had lived for 18 days. But when little Zachary squeezed his finger, his fury replaced with love. The grandfather said to Sam: "God was showing me that His love is never-ending. There are points in time when the future and the past are meaningless. The only important thing is the moment and how precious you can make it." On the mural, little Zachary is the angel with the Harp entering heaven.
No More Tears - This scene is originally created in a small painting as a gift of comfort. Sam mourned when he lost a young Filipino friend. Later, he recreated it as part of the Hallelujah Square where he put the idea as an entrance to the murals portrayal of heaven.
Ray Butcher - One day Sam's brother Ray visited him at the Chapel and shared that he will be retiring soon as a school janitor which he had enjoyed. In the middle of their conversation, Sam suddenly got an idea and asked his brother to wait. He rushed to the Chapel and painted his brother Ray kneeling at the foot of the stairs, with the scrub bucket by his side. After twenty minutes, Sam showed to his brother his surprise and said, "I'm going to make it possible for you to never have to retire. Now you have a job for eternity!"
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus - A message that Sam wanted to be the title for this figurine as his legacy when he passes away. On the painting, he portrays the sailor with his telescope.
Sam expanded his Hallelujah Square with additional panels, one for each side. He called it Hallelujah Square Trilogy. The left side tells the words from Book of Isaiah about peace and it also represents to those who choose to bring light into the world of others. On the same panel, I learned about the story of Bradley, the basketball player. His parents were depressed when they lost their son Bradley. Sam invited them to visit the Chapel and during their visit, Sam decided to make a figurine that would somehow give their son back. The title of the figurine is "Enter Into His Courts With Thanksgiving". Later, Sam painted Brandly on the East panel, the angel ready to shoot his basketball.
While on the west side of the Hallelujah Square trilogy, is another mural about Graduation Day. The drawing portrays angels queuing up waiting to receive their halos. Sam immediately painted Cody, the freckle-faced cowboy after seeing his photo on his horse for the first time. According to Cody's mom during the family's visit to the Chapel, Cody was always in a hurry even from the time he was born. She told Sam at a family wedding, Cody pushed his way through the rest just to reach on the bride's garter.
You may find a video clip of this amazing chapel. Forgive me about my capture, not a professional videographer.
The next article of this series would be the special rooms created to honor his son and some of his friends.