With summer break quickly coming to an end, we really put it in high gear. On the agenda for Thursday, August 30th was the Bahá’í Temple (#5 on the List of 50 Ideas for Summer Fun) in Wilmette, the Grosse Point Lighthouse (#22) in Evanston and the Artists of the Wall Mural (#4) in Rogers Park.
We headed to the Bahá’í Temple first, because it was the farthest from the house. Located at 100 Linden Avenue, it only took us about 30 minutes to get there. As we drove up to the Temple, it’s hard to believe you are in a Chicago suburb and not in a foreign country. The Temple is so majestic and beyond anything you are used to seeing in and around Chicago. It is the only one of its kind in North America and the oldest of the seven Bahá’í Temples found throughout the world.
The Bahá’í faith as explained on www.bahai.org
“Bahá’í beliefs address such essential themes as the oneness of God and religion, the oneness of humanity and freedom from prejudice, the inherent nobility of the human being, the progressive revelation of religious truth, the development of spiritual qualities, the integration of worship and service, the fundamental equality of the sexes, the harmony between religion and science, the centrality of justice to all human endeavors, the importance of education, and the dynamics of the relationships that are to bind together individuals, communities, and institutions as humanity advances towards its collective maturity.”
As you make your away around the temple, you are immediately drawn to the fountains and gardens.
“The Baha’i House of Worship gardens are part of the sacred space. The nine gardens are planted with foliage of various colors and fragrances to convey the beauty of unity in diversity. The nine rectangular approaches to the Temple, some incorporating reflecting pools, are reminiscent of those found in the East. The nine circular gardens, with round fountains, represent Western landscapes and serve as outdoor rooms for prayer.” – www.bahai.us
As I looked closer at the architecture and all the intricate design work, I was struck by what appeared to be a swastika, below the Star of David. On further research of the symbols found in the pillar, I came across an article explaining the meaning behind the placement of the symbols.
“Intricate carvings depicting the symbols of other religions on the nine exterior pillars represent the central Baha’i canon: that all major religions are actually reflections of a single divine source. The symbols are arranged in chronological order-from bottom to top-on the pillars. That’s why the swastika is at the base, with the Star of David above it (although it was adopted by the Nazis, the swastika as a religious symbol dates back nearly 5,000 years). Baha’i is the newest world religion-so its symbol, a nine-pointed star, tops each pillar.” Chicago Magazine, Sandra Swanson – 6/18/2007
After making our way around the Temple’s exterior, we headed inside the Temple. No pictures were allowed.
What you can expect in the Auditorium, as explained on the website:
“Our Auditorium is open every day, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., including all holidays. You are welcome to visit for silent worship and personal contemplation. During devotional programs, held at 9:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. each day, you will hear readings from the world’s great scriptures. A capella singing and chanting lends the simple beauty of the human voice to many programs. There is no clergy in the Baha’i Faith and no sermons or speeches are given in the Auditorium. Excerpts from scripture are pre-selected by the House of Worship staff and read aloud by local community members. The Baha’i House of Worship choir sings at 12:30 p.m. on the first three Sundays of every month.”
The Temple is truly a magnificent architectural marvel. It is well worth the trip, no matter how long or short the drive.
Next stop was the Grosse Point Lighthouse, located at 2601 Sheridan Road, only 1 mile south of the Bahá’í Temple.
A little history on the lighthouse, as described on the website:
“Grosse Point Lighthouse was built by the United States Government in 1873 as the lead lighthouse marking the approach to Chicago after several shipwrecks demonstrated its need. The promontory on which it stands was named Grosse Point (Great Point) by early French explorers and traders in the 17th century.
At its height of operation, Grosse Point Lighthouse required three keepers and a day laborer for maintenance and to keep the light and fog signals in top condition. In 1923, the lighthouse was electrified and staff was reduced to two keepers. Then, in 1934, with the installation of a photoelectric device – the first of its kind used to activate a lighthouse – the station was decommissioned. In 1935, the lighthouse site became the responsibility of the Lighthouse Park District.”
While the grounds of Grosse Point Lighthouse National Landmark are open to the public free of charge year-round, tours of the lighthouse are held seasonally. Weather permitting, specially arranged group tours of the lighthouse during the week can be made from mid-May through September. The District also conducts regularly scheduled tours of the lighthouse June through September, on Saturdays and Sundays at 2, 3 and 4 PM.
During our visit the lighthouse was closed, but we enjoyed exploring the grounds.
The last stop of the day was Loyola Park, in Rogers Park (1230 W. Greenleaf Ave). It was here where we were going to enjoy some local artwork. The Artists of the Wall Festival (AOTW) is a community mural project that brings neighbors of all ages and backgrounds together to paint a 600-foot seawall at Loyola Park Beach. This year was the 25th Anniversary of the festival and the theme was “Legends of the Wall.” The sea wall spans from Farwell to Morse at the lakefront.
As we walked along the seawall, which resembles a very long bench, the kids would pick out their favorite pieces of art. I would then be summoned to take a picture.
The quotes gave you something to think about.
The artwork was interactive and evoked many different emotions.
As we gathered for one more picture together, a long sigh was let out. It was a very busy morning, with some amazing sightseeing and now it was time to head back home and have some lunch.