100 Linden Avenue, Wilmette, IL 60091
“Haven’t you noticed the rays?
The spirit sun is stronger
And a new day is dawning for us all.”
—excerpt from “Hummingbird” by Seals and Crofts, 1973
Did you know that American musicians James Seals and Darrell Crofts are longtime advocates of the Baháʼí Faith? Did you know that there is an amazing architectural wonder of historic and cultural significance in Illinois? Did you know that the best things in life are free?
Scroll down to see more photos and read more about the Bahá’í House of Worship.
“Impressive! I like the view of the lake with the marina, and the ornate work on all the exteriors. I’m amazed that I’ve lived here all this time and never seen the Temple before until today. I can check the box on my bucket list!”
In the previous blog post, Lisa, my mom, Scott and I traveled to scenic downtown Winnetka to visit Peet’s Coffee. Then we took a side trip on foot to see the nearby “Home Alone” house. With the first part of our adventure under our burgeoning belts, we were on our way to see something beautiful and amazing. None of us had ever visited this place before, but we were well aware of its footprint in Illinois, and even North America. For the first time we were going to see the Bahá’í House of Worship.
I highly recommend following our path to start a wonderful day. The Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette is just a short drive from downtown Winnetka. As we drove closer, we started to see the distinguished shape of the temple with its marvelous dome so white in the sunlight. At first, its scale appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary on the landscape near the lakeshore. Approaching from a few blocks away, we felt confident that we were close. The temple suddenly came into view with stunning impression of scale and excellence. We were excited to set foot and see the Bahá’í House of Worship up close.
The Bahá’í House of Worship is open daily. Currently the temple is closed. Access to the gardens is open and up close views of the temple are encouraged. Visitors are kindly reminded to dress modestly and be on their best behavior. Simple rules lead to simple luxuries.
As we stepped out onto the perimeter, we stopped before a couple welcome signs. The first gave us the lay of the land while the second gave us a practical history lesson. Evidently, the proposed exterior cladding was under scrutiny during planning with concerns that the concrete mixture, composed of portland cement and two types of quartz, would not be able to withstand the extreme weather of Chicago. A tall vertical piece with ornate carvings was created and tested. It held up beautifully. The same ornamental concrete still stands and appears perfect, welcoming all those who visit the temple.
“The Temple is so beautiful! The carvings are inspiring. And the gardens are beautiful too!”
Walking up the accessible ramp, we caught our first view of the temple. We gasped with excitement and amazement. The magnitude of the temple rooted us where we stood. We were awestruck. I felt that the temple radiated energy. It reminded me of my first sighting of Fujisan in Japan, slowly appearing out of the mist, so impressive. This was a similar moment that was beautiful and giving. We took a few photos and stepped onto the circular path.
The gardens are based on a design by Hilbert E. Dahl. The changing seasons splashed their colors across the flora and fauna. The density of the gardens alternated between lush and expansive. Some facets of the temple were adjacent to fountains while others featured reflecting pools. Although the Bahá’í House of Worship is populated with visitors while Chicago is nearby, the lakefront and the deep gardens provided for peaceful spaces ideal for quiet contemplation.
As we walked along the circular perimeter path, we stopped with every facet of the temple to take photos and marvel at the changes in personality on the face of the temple as it beamed or shied away from sunlight. With the naked eye, even from far away, the intricate details in the exterior cladding was obvious. The scope of the ornate carvings was immense. Every square inch was carefully planned and crafted. After coming full circle, we were ready to see the temple up close.
Walking up the steps to see the temple felt like a gift. The Bahá’í House of Worship was planned in 1903 before it was dedicated in 1953. Think of that span. It wasn’t the best time for tolerance or enlightenment. A lot of different people, perhaps going against the grain a bit, reached out to try to create a place where people of all backgrounds could be welcomed to find peace in their own way.
Looking into the glass to see the interior of the temple provided a rare glimpse of the temple with no services ongoing. The scene was quiet and still. I imagined the temple filled with people seeking comfort, guidance and peace. I wondered if some of the visitors were just visitors or those making a discreet pilgrimage.
I had asked my mom to bring her Buddhist prayer beads. Japan was far away. We would not be visiting Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in the near future. This was a time for healing and purification. I wanted to send my positive thoughts and energies. Even though the temple was closed, we were provided a place where we could attain comfort, guidance (meditative) and peace.
“The Temple is amazing! It is way more impressive than I thought it would be even though we were just outside. With each section around the perimeter, we can enjoy a different garden, reflecting pool or fountain. The variety of plants and flowers is excellent. The ornate designs in the concrete are so impressive that I want to learn more about them!”
After we returned home, I asked everyone for their thoughts. Not surprisingly, we were elated in our agreement. Scott: “Impressive! I like the view of the lake with the marina, and the ornate work on all the exteriors. I’m amazed that I’ve lived here all this time and never seen the Temple before until today. I can check the box on my bucket list!” My mom: “The Temple is so beautiful! The carvings are inspiring. And the gardens are beautiful too!” Lisa: “The Temple is amazing! It is way more impressive than I thought it would be even though we were just outside. With each section around the perimeter, we can enjoy a different garden, reflecting pool or fountain. The variety of plants and flowers is excellent. The ornate designs in the concrete are so impressive that I want to learn more about them!” And me, right now: “I love the Bahá’í House of Worship! It is a place where everyone can strengthen their spirit or appreciate an architectural wonder. Even though the temple is currently closed, people still visit!”
A small group of people convened in 1903 to commence a discussion about the Bahá’í House of Worship. Fifty years later the temple was formally dedicated. Their gift to Illinois, and to North America, stands for all people. There is a pull that leads everyone to admire the architectural wonder of the temple. There is no push to follow the Baháʼí Faith. Some of the principles are common: unity, equality and harmony. We have more in common with each other than not. Follow the path that comes full circle, gaze up at the temple, and get closer.
To learn more or plan your visit to the Bahá’í House of Worship, click The Bahá’í House of Worship
To experience an amazing dynamic presentation of the Bahá’í House of Worship, click on the link to my Adobe Spark photoblog at Adobe Spark – The Bahá’í House of Worship
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