One feels a sense of calm elation in watching the moon rise over Lake Michigan on a wintry evening—the very moon which just at that instant is setting below the dunes of the Kalahari desert, watched by Bedouins on their weary camel caravans. As the sun rises above the lilied ponds of Angkor, it simultaneously illuminates the skies as it drops below the cloud-capped mountains of New Hampshire.
Similarly, to many there comes a quiet sense of fulfillment listening to a sermon at church or the pealing bells of a lakeside shrine. For thousands of years we have sought that inexplicable divinity that unites us all, recreating such elevating experiences in temples, cathedrals, mosques, Buddhist viharas, synagogues, and mountaintop monasteries. We have infused holiness into these places through collective worship and prayer.
We also seek out the sublime in Mother Nature’s most hallowed shelters—some of which are powerfully sacred for reasons truly unknown. Somewhere amid the lush olive groves of Delphi where the Oracle once held sway lies the sacred omphalos—the hallowed navel of the earth. Deep inside the caves of Actun Tunichil Muknal, the Maya fervently called out to their gods through pain-filled rituals. Worshippers have stood awestruck by the cataclysmic might of the goddess Pele as she bursts out in red rage from her volcanic abode in Hawaii.
These are the shades of divinity I have sought to explore through pen and paint through the 12 chapters in my upcoming book, each set in a different country.