January 23, 2001 Day One: Today I visited one of the most sacred places to the Hindus that does not include their places of worship: Ganges River. I saw people spreading ashes in the river and bathing in the river. I wondered why people were spreading relative ashes in the river so I asked one of the people and they told me that "This is a Holy place, because we believe that the Ganges River once flowed in the heavens and the Gods were scared that it would flood the world on its way down from the heavens. So we seeked for help from shiva and once he captured it in his locks he placed the river on Earth."
January 26, 2001: I woke up early today hoping to experience Buddhism as a culture. I went to the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya. This temple is one of four holy sites related to the like of the lord Buddha and particularly to attain enlightenment. This was built in the 1st to 3rd century and completely out of brick. I am amazed what they were able to accomplish and to sustain a height of 160 feet. I also saw an amazing statues that were enormous. As I wandered around this incredible monument the feeling of peace and tranquility is everywhere. This is a true embodiment of the Buddhist culture. Going there expanded my awareness and understanding of Buddhist beliefs.
February 1, 2001: I arrived today in Jerusalem, Israel and headed straight toward the "Wailing Wall". Rome destroyed the Second Temple in 70 C.E., and only one outer wall remained standing...the "Wailing Wall" The Romans must have thought this was insignificant to them since it was not part of the Temple itself. It was just an outer wall surrounding the Temple Mount. For the Jews, this remnant of what was a most sacred building quickly became the holiest spot in Jewish life due to the connection to the Temple Mount which was behind the wall. It's also the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray. This is the place where all my ancestors talked about. My first impression as I walked up to it was the size and the amount of people surrounding the wall (praying).I could picture my Dolly praying in front of this wall and it made me smile rembering her long talks on its history of persecution and destruction of their temples.
February 5, 2001: I have arrived in Jerusalem to see the most significant site in Christianity;Jesus's tomb. I noticed that it is a manmade tomb carved out of solid rock. There is also a channel cut so the rock could roll and close the entrance. It is still unfathomable to know the story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ it was noticed. Mary Magdalene returned with spices to anoint his dead body, it was missing; Jesus was no longer there. As I was staring in to the abyss of that tomb, I felt a strong connection with him and everything he stands for. This site, for Christians, is the place where eternal life through resurrection, was made possible for all.
February 10,2001: Today is my final adventure of my religious locations and it has taken me to Saudi Arabia (Mecca).The city holds the holy site in Islam, the Masjid al-Haram ('Sacred Mosque'), and was declared a site of pilgrimage by the Prophet Muhammad in 630. This was the year of his triumphant return to the city after years of exile in Medina. Inside the Sacred Mosque is the Ka'bah, a large cubical building said by Muslims to have been built by Abraham with the help of his son Ishmael. In the Ka'bah is the "black stone", an object Muslims believe was given to Abraham by the angel Gabriel. The name Ka'bah comes from the Arabic word meaning 'cube', and refers to the cube-shaped stone structure inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca. This is the main focal point for worship during the daily prayers: unifying all Muslims. Wherever they are in the world, Muslims pray in the direction of Mecca and the Ka'bah. To be able to experience such a thing and see so many together, praying and worshiping was an experience like no other. Hundreds of thousands giving tribute to God.