Few people visiting Chicago these days are looking for peaceful messages and I wouldn’t tell people to come here in search of any. With the recent murder of police officers in Dallas and the all too often murder of African-Americans at the hands of police, many of us are searching for peace. Fortunately for those of us who live in the Chicago area there is one place to visit where we can find tranquility – the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette.
When we lived in Haifa, Israel in the early 1970’s, we could look through the back window of our apartment and see the Baha’i Shrine. The shrine itself was beautiful and its gardens were a rare sanctuary of peace in a world often torn apart by violence. I felt fortunate then to be able to see it from my window and envision a world in which inter-ethnic harmony was a possibility although a very distant one.
|the Baha'i Shrine in Haifa|
I can no longer see the Baha’i Shrine from my window, but I can drive a few miles and visit the Bahai House of Worship in Wilmette just north of Evanston along Lake Michigan. I think the building is even more beautiful than the one I remember in Haifa. Entry into the house of worship, the gardens, and the visitor center are free to the public. No wonder Victor Danilov lists it under religious museums in Chicago’s Museums, A Complete Guide to the City’s Cultural Attractions.
|the Baha'i Shrine in Wilmette, Illinois|
The Bahai’s main belief is in the oneness of humanity and in the development of relationships among individuals, communities, and institutions that reflect that. Attainment of peace is their goal. They believe that all religions are one in a continuing progression of learning throughout the centuries. That’s a very small thumbnail sketch of their belief system. To explore it further, you can go to their website www.bahai.org.
|In the Visitor Center|
Indeed, the Baha’i have attained peace in the style of the building and in the visitor center where you can learn more about this religious group and its belief system. The real attraction for me is the gardens. Walking through them is a walk through tranquility itself. The entire shrine is surrounded by gardens that are beautifully manicured and painstakingly cultivated. For that alone, it is worth the visit. Do go there while everything is in bloom. It’s a massage for the soul.
|one view of the gardens at the Bahai shrine in Wilmette|