When visiting the sites of the world, the “must-dos”, the places that capture the culture and passion of the people, I find myself in many temples, mosques, and cathedrals. Although the religions are different, the places of worship, prayer, and meditation have much in common. There is the reverence for tradition, the quiet, respectful attitude, and the art. I find it fascinating that these symbols of faith and community present a dichotomy of engaging the many, often poor, while the opulence they display conveys a wealth not always shared with the followers.
I’ve walked through the cool quiet cathedrals of Europe amazed at the masterful art that adorns the walls. I’ve stood absorbing the oils, still vibrant after hundreds of years, the characters caught in mid-step in the glories or anguishes of life. This is how the masters sold and displayed their craft, focusing on religious themes to ornament the churches.
I’ve visited mosques in Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, and Abu Dhabi, wandering through with the crowds, a scarf respectfully covering my hair, absorbed in discovering the beauty of colorful tiles, carved wood, and ornate marbled flowers growing along the floor and up the walls. The meticulous detail speaks of craftsmanship and dedication.
And there are the temples of Buddhist Asia, the insides displaying scenic depictions of old stories passed down through the generations, somewhat faded but still illuminating stories of men and women and the struggles of their lives, a common theme in religious focused art. The silent Buddhas stand, sit, or recline, their guarded smiles revealing little.
I often reflect on one common theme across all of these religions – the role of women is never equal to the men. And in that detail, I continue to cautiously observe hoping that one day women and men will be equal in how they live and how they worship.
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