Our life are shaped by our faith.
Whether you agree with me or not, it doesn’t really matter because one way or the other you believe in something you just don’t want to admit it.
In my travels, for work and for leisure, I always seek out places of worship other than the one I am affiliated with. I enjoy the story and the architecture and its my way of keeping myself in line (or rather on my toes) to make sure that I am not being insensitive or disrespecting of anyone’s faith, practices and culture.
So join me in my journey back in time … re-visiting the places I’ve been to and experience a little bit of what I had seen back then.
Church of St. Paul’s by the Hill is found in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
A very quiet place when you want to commune with God alone but during Sunday mass it’s an explosive place of worship, with beautiful voices rising to the heavens singing praises and equally a feast to the eyes when you see women in Sierra Leone in their nice Sunday dresses with matching head pieces.
Sierra Leone is one example that Christian – Catholic or otherwise and Muslims can co-exist and live in harmony. The mosque and the cathedral where I live is almost facing each other so I don’t really need an alarm clock because my first alarm would be at 5am (for the Muslim first prayers) and then at 6.30 (for the Catholic morning mass) so I am never later to work — my office is my house anyway 🙂
A visit to Vietnam brought us to a temple by the hill.
The Truc Lam Temple is on top of the hill in Dalat, Vietnam. Another nice place to have a time for you and your family it’s part worship place and part tourist attraction.
I have very high respect to monks, with their practice of piety and non-violence, such is the case of Tibet, that is why I look up to the Dalai Lama for wisdom the same way I look up Saint John Paul II on tolerance and strengthening of faith.
A little bit of history lesson when you visit the famous Angkor Wat.
Here is a Deity carved from stone in one of the temples in Angkor Wat found in Siem reap, Cambodia. The history of Angkor Wat shaped the country of Cambodia and they believed that everything is connected — the Buddhist belief in Karma. The spirits linger until they are reborn to another life form based on how they lived the lives in the past.
I am glad the the temple complex was reclaimed from the ravages of the war and was not littered with land mines because it opens Cambodia to the world. The incursion of nature added to the beauty of the complex and sans the tourist it is a place where you can get lost in your thoughts and be one with your god.
From Cambodia let’s go to the half-island country called East Timor. Colonized by the Portuguese for over 400 years but still maintained their traditional faith practice — respecting the spirits of the old.
Here is another place of worship the Uma Lulik. It is a traditional sacred house where rituals are held every year to call on their ancestors. From the kind of wood to use and the way it should be contructed are based on their tradition, some houses were built secretly and believed to be guarded by spirits to preserve its sanctity until the reveal day which is a very big and expensive celebration.
I find this tradition very good in keeping the family in line … up to the youngest member of the family are given roles during the traditional gathering. It preserves tradition, familial connections and therefore preserve the very foundation of the children — the family.
Entry and exit hub for Timor Leste is Bali, in the southern – eastern tip of Indonesia.
You probably know Bali for its beaches and surfing but it is also a hub for spirituality — remember the movie Eat, Pray and Love? (I didn’t watch it nor read the book though). The Hindu tradition of worship is somewhat similar to the Buddhist in such a way that it’s showy. They put offerings where a deity is placed either a flower, food or fruits, the same for the Buddhist they always have a garland ready for their gods even in the busy streets of Pratunam in Thailand.
Bali is a microcosm of culture. Eastern and western culture co-exist even though sometimes it is offensive (i.e. tourist wearing almost nothing – bikinis and board shorts when shopping or dining around the beach area) but the local doesn’t seem to mind or so I think.
The final stop would be Europe — in Taize, France.
The last (but not the least) place of worship I like to reminisce is the Taize Community. I grew in faith with Taize as one of my foundation, I listen to their music when my mind is so cluttered with worldly thoughts and I am always brought back in place, try it sometime.
So when I had an opportunity to visit France i made sure I will get to visit the community and I did but the directions to go there I got from the hostel receptionist from Romania not from my French colleagues. He told me that he visited Taize community when he was still in Romania as a student and it was also a part of his youth and his faith journey — kindred spirits!
The community welcomes all faith, Catholic and all other denomination and faith especially the youth of today from over 30 countries. It is a good place to meditate and meet new friends. It was started by Brother Roger where he invited young people to experience contemplative form of prayers and find themselves in the process.
It has been good journey of faith.
So now you tell me … do you believe?