on the road again, XII

Have you ever pondered the thought that faith may be the most creative spirit that we have? I’m not talking about organized religion, although it definitely can play a role in what I am about to comment on. But what people of deep belief/faith have been able to accomplish, just in the world of architecture is truly amazing. Anyone who has ever travelled through Europe can attest to the amazing cathedrals, built to the glory of God. Even the Greeks and the Romans did some pretty amazing architectural projects in honour of their Gods. And both the Jews and the Muslims have over the centuries built some incredible working monuments to their faiths (even though some have been, unfortunately, destroyed — e.g. the great temple Herod built in Jerusalem modeled after Solomon’s).

Today I experienced a very faith-oriented day in the jungles of Cambodia. While we all may have heard about Angkor Wat (a product of deep faith in the god-like nature and beliefs of a twelfth [12th] century king) and its magnificence, the real jewel in my mind is the vast complex known as Angkor Thom. It is bigger and while much of it is still in ruins due to trees and other impacts of living nature, the very size speaks to the religious faith of the kings and their peoples in the thirteenth [13th] century. While nothing for me can exceed spending time inside St. Mungo’s (Glasgow Cathedral) or St. Pierre (in Geneva), today was a really moving time for me. (By the way, IM — Thom in Cambodian means “great person” as well as “large/tall person” — you named your son well!!!!!)

The architecture is overwhelming. How they could build such structures is fairly incredible. But the carvings, artistry and symmetry is astounding. We climbed to the top of several temples. We walked through tombs and libraries (OAA, you would love to have had these settings to read/review your books for the Vancouver Board of Trade), and then over courtyards and beside swimming pools the size of Manhattan. And the moats are laid out not only to protect the King’s domain but to provide irrigation water for his subjects. There is a sense that life was complete, was whole, was moving towards “the better” and had it not been for invasions by the Thai’s it might never have ended…

Whatever your faith (or lack thereof) you will find the Angkor Archeological Park to be a place where a day within will move you to reflect on your own life within.

By the way, we had a great dinner & show last night as I had imagined. Very cultural and very immediate. The dancers were incredible — as skilled as any First Nations’ dancers at major PowWow’s… The one [1] hour show ended too soon.

Today however by the time we completed our walks through the ruins — including a brief break for lunch we had spent seven [7] hours in an intensity that brought us back to the hotel and crashing in the pool…Not even interested yet in going for dinner…still absorbing the question: “what will subsequent generations learn about our sense and/or depth of faith when they look at our architecture?” Will the Sydney Opera House overshadow Cannery Wharf in London, or the “palm court” in Dubai? Will future generations simply muse, “these people had no faith, and it shows in their lack of significant architecture?”

Enjoy your breakfast or your dinner. Life is good, as long as we are trying to get to better…don’t quit doing things because they aren’t done in great architectural edifices, but ask yourself — “what am I doing to show that I have faith in something and how am I expressing this in the world around me?”

One thought on “on the road again, XII

  1. Than you for illuminating my morning….last night I sat in a much more prosaic place than you and ST-a high school auditorium (eerily familiar to most of us adults as it was exactly the same as my high school from eons ago) surrounded by hundreds of aspiring teachers in the process of becoming…we listened to an inspiring and humorous address that rounds up a course called School and Society (complete with poetry written by the professor)…and then we were treated to the student drumming group “Offbeat” (the only high school group in North America that does a similar act to Stomp if any of you have ever seen this kind of performance)…the pulsing beat was viscerally the heartbeat of faith that filled the space on a night of both freezing rain…and burning hope… every time Offbeat performs, they have faith that their colleagues will be there to maintain the beat and thus they weave a moment of human creativity for all to experience… every time a student chooses education as their vocation, even in times where teachers are denigrated or even threatened as in some parts of our world…and every time a teacher walks into a room full of kids or young adults, they display a profound faith that we can get to the better…one individual at a time…education is for me the faith that anchors us and the hope that may one day set us free…merci encore une fois for inspiring a quiet moment of reflection…

Comments are closed.