Stonebriar Community Church
I begin my journey to religious sites with my own place of worship located in Frisco, Texas. I attend Stonebriar Community Church every Sunday, and attend one of two services that are held. I love listening to our pastor, Chuck Swindoll, deliver his sermon and coming closer to our Lord and Savior every week. We believe that the Bible is the word of God, that it is without any flaws, and that the unfailing rule of faith and His will for our salvation. We believe that God is in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and that he is the creator of all things. We believe that Jesus Christ, the Son, died for our salvation, and that the Holy Spirit resides in all believers. We believe that all those in the right relationship with God will live in everlasting blessedness, and those who reject Christ shall live in everlasting punishment. The architecture and structure of this church is very large, yet simplistic. The outside appearance is mainly white stone. Stonebriar has a very large attendance, therefore, we have two services and a very large church.
Saint Patrick's Cathedral
My next destination brings me to Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York. As I am walking through the busy streets of New York, I am astounded by the pure beauty of this tremendous piece of architecture. There are very few words to describe the stunning masonry and stained glass windows that make this on of the most grand places of worship. Saint Patrick's Cathedral gets its name from none other than Saint Patrick himself. Born in Britain, St. Patrick was kidnapped by pirates when he was 14 years of age and was taken to Ireland. In that time, he turned to God and witness his life begin to change. He later returned to Britain, and studied priesthood, later converting thousands of people, and building churches across the country. Many catholic people now come to this beautiful cathedral to attend mass, and confession. Saint Patrick's Cathedral is a large, and very popular part of the cultural landscape in New York, and I feel privileged to have seen it.
I now find myself in India, along the Hindu's most holy river, the Ganges River. I am in a city called Varanasi (also known as Benaras). This city is located in India, and is often referred to as the religious capitol of India. Most Hindus desire to make a pilgrimage to this sacred city at least once in their lifetime, and "if god wills" die here of old age. This city is filled with many temples and Hindu idols. It is also a place of learning, and practicing heritage in music, literature, and art, particularly silk-weaving. The roots of this city run deep through history, and can be seen plainly in the architecture. The city almost seems as if it has gone unchanged for the entirety of its existence, making it even more breathtaking. The gentle flow of the Ganges river creates a peaceful serenity, especially when floating down in one of the boats at sunset.
My next stop was visiting the Jagannath Temple in Puri. This temple is a popular Hindu pilgrimage destination. It is dedicated to "Lord Jagannath" and is one of the pilgrimages expected to be made in a lifetime. This temple is famous for is extravagant annual religious festival. This temple is sacred to all Hindus, and runs deep with cultural history. The complex design of the exterior architecture never ceases to amaze me. The interior is even more fascinating. One of the most interesting things that I learned was that a wooden icon of Jagannath, that is worshiped, is kept in the temple, and approximately, every 20 years is replaced with another replica carved from the wood of a sacred tree.
I now move to viewing sights significant to the Islamic religion. My next stop is one of the most recognized landmarks across the globe: the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is located in the Indian city of Arga, on the banks of the Yamuna river. It is an ivory, marble mausoleum that was designed to house the tomb of the Mughal emperor's favorite wife who died while giving birth to their fourteen child. It is said that there are ninty-nine names of alla inscribed on the tomb. It is also rumored that the emperor ordered that the hands of all the workers who build the Taj Mahal be cut off, so that no one may create another monument so beautiful. The areas around the Taj Mahal are very serene and peaceful, and the lush green gardens, along with the reflecting pools and fountains, create a oasis like environment. During different times of day, I noticed that, the sunlight can alter the color of the Taj Mahal. Just after sunrise, when I went to view it, the monument had a pink tint to it. This beautiful wonder of the world has attracted many tourists, including myself, from all across the globe, and it doesn't dissapoint.
The Great Mosque of Mecca
The Great Mosque of Mecca is the largest mosque in the world, and is located in Saudi Arabia. This is the holiest mosque for all Muslims. According to the five pillars of Islam, requires every Muslim to make a pilgrimage to this sacred site at least once in their lifetime. This pilgrimage results in one of the largest gatherings of people that the world knows. Standing next to the huge building made me feel tiny. They truly mean the largest mosque in the world. The architecture looks simple just upon gazing at it, but when i think about it, it probably took years upon years to build. Also, you can see the history in the walls and all the arches, and domed roofs. All the attention to detail is what truly made this site stand out.
My travels now take me to South Korea to see one on Buddhism's most famous temples. The Haeinsa Temple, otherwise known as the Temple of Reflection on a Smooth Sea, has a unique history to it. In 1817, this wooden temple was burned to the ground, however its most precious feature survived. A copy of the Buddhist scriptures, written on 81,258 wooden blocks survived the fire. As I stood there, I couldn't help but marvel at the beauty around me. The somewhat remote location in the woods, especially in the fall time, created a tranquility you won't find just anywhere. This temple is still wooden, and is very easy to look at. The beautiful colors compliment each other so well, and the simple, yet unique structure of the building is eye-catching.
Now in Thailand, I am in the presence of a stunning Buddhist temple known as Wat Arun. or the Temple of Dawn. This temple resembles Mount Meru, which is the center of the universe in Buddhist cosmology. Wat Arun is one of Buddhism's oldest temples, and certainly one of the most fascinating. Ironically, despite its name, the temple is best viewed at sunset. One of the most unique things that I saw was the colorful, decorated spires. Also, its riverside location makes it even more of a magnificent tourist location.
The Western Wall has been a Jewish site for pilgrimage and prayer for centuries. it is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, and is considered holy because it is connected to the Jew's holiest temple. The wall is the holiest place where Jews are allowed to pray. No wonder this is a popular pilgrimage destination! The wall is about 488 meters long, and 19 meters high. The beautiful construction of this wall is entirely made of stone, and is awe inspiring to look at.
I have now reached my final destination on this amazing journey that I will never forget. I am still in the Old City of Jerusalem, however, I now find myself in front of Judaism's most holy temple, the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount is the most holy Jewish temple because it is believed to be the place where God's divine presence is in, more than any other. They believe that this is the location that God gathered the very dust that created Adam, the first human to be created on Earth. It was a very insightful experience to look into the culture of the religion, and gaze upon the fabulous architecture. The part of the temple that stood out the most to me was the shining gold dome at the top of the complex architecture of the temple.