Saturday, December 28, 2013

Shoghi and the Temple

A few weeks ago I had the wonderful bounty of taking my son, Shoghi, to Chicago. As you may know, if you have been reading this blog for a while, Shoghi is currently 8-years old.

Well, I've got to tell you, I was impressed with him. When I was his age, if you brought me to a museum, 2 hours. That was it. After that I went kind of nuts. I was ready to climb the walls. Nutsoid. That was me.

But not my little guy. He was unbelievable. We got to most of the museums shortly after they opened. And 8 hours later he was still raring to go. I mean, I was tired. My legs were hurting. But he was wondering why we had to go. "What do you mean the museum is closing?"

All right. Maybe he wasn't quite like that, but it sure was close.

Anyways, at the end of our trip I asked him what his favorite thing was that he did in Chicago.

Without a moment's thought, he said, "Looking up in the Baha'i Temple."

Backtrack: When Shoghi and I arrived in Chicago, at O'Hare Airport, we went straight to the train and took a nice ride to my friend Lucki's house. This was relatively late in the afternoon, so we just went and got some groceries, talked for a while, and headed off to sleep. It was the very next morning that we went up to the Temple.

The day was fairly cool and overcast. It hadn't starting raining yet, so we thought we might be ok. We took the train up to Wilmette, where the Temple is located, and walked the few blocks there under the deep grey sky. I pointed out to Shoghi the brick street, and the asked him if he could see the Temple. He didn't realize that we were less than a block away, and was a bit awestruck at seeing it looking over us through the trees.

We went downstairs to the visitor's centre, and I explained that this was where I had enrolled in the faith. Then we proceeded to have a look around, going into the bookstore, and seeing the foundation stone. He had heard all about this stone, donated by an early believer, and he was pretty psyched about seeing it for real. We saw a few more things, like the model of the Temple built by the architect himself, and decided to head upstairs so that we could settle in before the daily devotions began.

We headed to the doors and were stopped in our tracks by the rain. It looked like someone was hosing down the doors. In all my years there, I don't think I've ever seen such an intense rain. I mean, I am sure I have, but I truly don't recall it.

We all looked at each other and said, "Let's take the elevator." So we did.

Upstairs, under the lacy dome, it was even worse. The rain, that is. The wind was blowing so hard that it was slamming the drops into the dome, resounding all throughout the building. The dome, by the way, is three layers: the external concrete dome, a steel and glass shell, and the internal concrete dome. Although you couldn't see the rain hitting the dome above, you could sure hear it.

We sat down, said a few prayers, and then the choir began to sing. Although their sound didn't quite fill the vast space, it still sounded as if angels were pealing out. Their music was so beautiful that I could scarce keep from crying. Prayers were read. More music was sung. And all the while the storm was blowing mightily out there. At times it was so intense that you could tell more than a few people were wondering if the windows would smash in. Needless to say, they didn't, but it was still a very impressive windstorm.

After the devotions concluded, I leaned over to Shoghi and whispered, "Look up." I watched as his gaze moved up one of the pillars, higher and higher. His head tilted further and further back, but his lower jaw didn't seem to move. His mouth, and his eyes, just opened wider and wider.

That was what he had said was his favorite moment of the whole trip.

My favorite moment happened just a few minutes later.

After looking up, and just sitting there for a few minutes, he got that expression on his face that told me he was thinking something through. He seemed to just sit there, staring at nothing in particular, listening to the sound of the rain on the windows.

Then he turned to me, and he whispered, "It's interesting, isn't it? It's like the faith. Everything is going to pieces out there, but in here it's safe."

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