As those of you who have ever kept a blog know, writing for the internet can be incredibly discouraging if your heart isn’t in the right place with it. With all the content there is online, each blog is only an infinitesimally small drop in a very vast sea of ideas. I have always had pretty flexible expectations for this blog – a place for me to chronicle the trips my boyfriend and I take, a way to improve my photography, a concrete hobby aside from my research, and a resource for those who are looking for information about religious sites. But my expectations have been greatly surpassed, and I want to thank three groups of people in particular.
First, those of you who follow the blog. I never envisioned this blog having followers, because who else is weird enough to want to read about the history of religious sites? You all are wonderful for your encouragement. Additionally, I’ve had several of you submit ideas of places to visit. Keep those ideas coming! I apologize for the lack of new content as of late though. This semester has hit very hard and is sapping most of my free time.
Second, those aggregates which have helped to spread my blog and create one of those things I cherish – an interfaith dialogue. They bring in wide set of viewpoints that help to keep this blog accurate. ThePulp.it has featured a few of my posts. Also, 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary has guided several people here who have introduced me to new places to visit or concepts to explore (like stave churches). I hope to restart 7 Quick Takes in the near future. Finally, my post concerning the opening of the Kansas City Missouri Temple was featured on Desert News, a Utah-based LDS news source. Aside from the wonderful interaction with this influx of Mormons, it was great to have them reading all of my articles concerning their faith and offering helpful clarifications. You can read some of my tangential thoughts about that interaction in my fourth point here.
The third group of people are those who benefit or help contribute to this blog, and they probably won’t ever see this. One of the unique things this blog has offered which I never anticipated is communication with a diverse group of people on the places I have traveled to, particularly those with little online presence. It’s been interesting to see what others think of some of these sites.
For example, my post on St. Mary of the Oaks. I’ve had three people who are either descendants or in-laws of John Endres (the man who built the shrine) comment on that post. From what I’ve been able to gather from comments, emails, and where the hits are coming from, one of the relatives must have found this post after hearing about the shrine from a grandmother-in-law. Since then, the post seems to have been passed around the family. There’s talk of a family reunion near the shrine in the future, to allow these younger generations to see part of their heritage.
Another great example is the update I posted on the Shrine of Sts. Cosmas and Damian. I store all of my personal photos for this blog on Flickr in the hopes that others can benefit from them. About 3 months after I posted the pictures for the shrine, a commenter mentioned he knew of the church, and inquired about it (you may recall that I wasn’t able to get inside or find any history). We started a dialogue about the church, and it turns out he’s part of the Baptist congregation that now worships at the shrine. You can read our comments here. Additionally, an antique bookseller had a book about the history of the shrine, and found my post when doing some background checking. He left a link to a summary of the book, which provided some more details concerning the shrine’s history.
Remember my friend who is part of a church plant? Since writing about Awaken Church, it has actually become one of my most searched-for posts. My friend was talking to one of his church’s newer members a few months ago about my blog, and it turns out this man made his decision to visit Awaken in part because of that post.
Finally, I met a friend through all of this blogging. Technically, it was from posting over at IgnatiumToday, but had I never blogged here first, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to post there. She happened to recognize some identifying diocesan details, as well as my name from when I entered the Catholic Church in 2010. It turns out she works at the same parish church I attend. A few months after, she invited me out for coffee, and we have been keeping in touch ever since.
So, thanks to all of your for making my first year of blogging so memorable! Here’s to a fun and productive second year, brimming with adventure and learning (and, of course, basilicas!).