Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Temple of Heaven

World Heritage Sites

As I continue to document World Heritage Sites, it occurs to me that their importance isn't necessarily about history, culture or great beauty, but rather as a conduit to bring the people of the world together.  This was certainly the case when we visited the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

Perhaps it was because the three-tiered Hall of Prayer was closed for renovation and we really only saw the Vault of Heaven that I don't remember the whole religious complex that well.  No, it was playing King of the Mound with hundreds of fellow global citizens that makes this historic site so special to me.  We all took turns standing in the center of the altar where sacrifices and prayers were made to the heavens by the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties.  People took pictures of us.  We took pictures of them.  My two sons, dressed in colorful Hawaiian shirts, baggy shorts and flip flops were in high demand as models.  I mean who wouldn't want their picture taken with two cute surfer dudes?

I've written a lot lately about why I travel and this is just one more reason--to make friends with complete strangers.  My sons were honored to be the focus of so much attention.  They couldn't understand a word people were saying, but the handshakes and smiles needed no translation.  They were both in high school and like most teenagers, thought their parents were idiots.  How they loved telling us what we were doing wrong!

But bringing them to China was one thing we did right.  We talk about that trip often when we are together.  Travel bonded us with our sons.  And they, in turn, bonded with the world.

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