We were so pleased that the threatened snow did not materialize to postpone today’s field trip. It was the second time we have visited traditional, religious spaces in the context of our winter study of sacred places. (We have taken three trips thus far in the study – the first to a memorial sacred space, the Laurel Hill Cemetery. One additional trip to a religious site is planned for next week, when we visit Masjidullah, a Sunni mosque in Philadelphia.)
Before too long, the children in the group will add their own voices to this blog to describe their experience and impressions. Without stealing their thunder, I want to say, as an adult in the group, how I was struck by the wonderful warmth with which we have been greeted and welcomed, and the varied ways in which each community has shown us what and why is important to it. Most of all, however, I have been moved by the engagement of the children on these visits — their thoughtful questions and close listening, respectful and curious attitudes, and their openness.
We have been offered experiences that few outside of those religious traditions often seek or are afforded – today we had a look at Sifrei Torahs inside the Ark at Beth Or, and were invited to witness puja performed at Bharatiya Temple. On our last trip we opened the baptistery font at the Cathedral, and then were treated to many historical details about the Quaker meetinghouse down the street. I hope families are asking for and enjoying many other details about these trips. I am sure there will be wonderful stories of our trip to the mosque next week to add to the tales. More than this, I hope that these visits have piqued the curiosity of all of the children about the values and practices of those outside of their own experience, and will contribute to the lifelong habit of curiosity and openness that they possess in such abundance now.
(Pictures found online, typically from institution’s own sites, as photography is not always welcome inside the sanctuaries.)