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The Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

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The Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel
The Pillars & Foundations blog has documented exploration of my surrounding communities as well as travels abroad, with a topic focused on the spiritual centers I've had the opportunity to visit.

Recently I completed a trip to Israel and my goal is to document several of the notable sites during my exploration.

The Western Wall, considered the holiest sight in Judaism, is one of the remaining segments of a retaining wall that made the foundation of the Second Jewish Temple constructed by Herod the Great. The wall is made of enormous limestone blocks and it dates as early as 19 BCE. The Romans demolished the Second Temple, and this segment of the wall was one of the only portions that survived.


I first saw the wall as part of a tour of the old city when we were in the Jewish Quarter. One stop on this journey provided a great view of the area. To get close to the wall one must go through a security check. Once through the check there is an outer a…

My Story of Visiting "Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris"

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My Story of Visiting "Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris"I had often thought of writing a post about my Notre Dame visit, and had been reluctant previously largely because my photographs are few and unexceptional. This post is my way of expressing my sadness about the recent fire at the church, expressing my hope that they are able to rebuild, and being thankful that I did get to experience it first hand.

When I had the opportunity to do a layover in Paris in 2009 (Oh how the time flies), I was far from being a "Church Crawler," and my grasp of photography was even worse than it currently is, so unfortunately I was not mindful to take great photos. It was my opportunity for a quick experience in Paris, I only had several hours, and I certainly rushed through major sites with as much gusto as I could foster up after doing more than a week's worth of 12+ hour days of work in a neighboring country.





The visuals I can provide from my brief visit are less than stellar (sli…

Buddhist Meditation Group, Unitarian Universalist Church, Reading, MA

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Buddhist Meditation Group, Unitarian Universalist Church, Reading, MA
Pillars & Foundations documents an exploration of communities, as well as faith through religious institutions. My intent is to share experiences, and spread the positivity that I observe. 



UUCRAbout a year ago I had the pleasure of attending a Sunday service at UU Reading (read about it here). I found a welcoming community of diverse people, and eventually it was only natural that I would have to attend the Buddhist Meditation group held at 7:15 on Monday nights in their community room. I had managed to attend twice previously, but I had not written about the experience. Amidst my spiritual and community exploration over the past year I attended Kurukulla Center in Medford semi-continuously on Monday nights where courses are offered on Buddhist practice. On one occasion I had an off night and attended Andy Furst's Sangha in Reading. On another date I attended again and a substitute from UUCR aptly led the med…

St. Leonard of Port Maurice Parish, Boston, MA

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St. Leonard of Port Maurice Parish, Boston: Ash Wednesday MassPillars & Foundations documents an exploration of communities, as well as faith through religious institutions. My intent is to share experiences, and spread the positivity that I observe. 



Building & HistoryWikipedia is the primary source for my information on the church history, like some churches I've visited Saint Leonard Parish dedicates their webpage completely to support the current day activities and community. 
First it is important to note that St. Leonard is considered one of the oldest churches constructed by Italian immigrants in the United States. It was constructed beginning in 1885 in Romanesque style, with the upper church and a friary finalized in 1899. Frescos and craftsmanship shown in the photos were created by Italian parishioners through the church's history. The church is also known for its peace garden and a St. Anthony shrine. The namesake of the church, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, i…

Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, West Hartford, CT: Lectio Divina

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Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, West Hartford, CT: Lectio DivinaPillars & Foundations documents an exploration of communities, as well as faith through religious institutions. My intent is to share experiences, and spread the positivity that I observe. 
Campus DescriptionHoly Family Retreat Center is located in a bucolic suburb of Hartford Connecticut. Still decidedly urban the monastery and an expansive, mostly wooded grounds is seated amongst an idyllic upper middle class neighborhood. Forty-eight acres of grounds offer a refuge from the bustle to visitors as well as the people in the community, to which it is open. Trails meander through the forest, and visitors can appreciate thoughtful landscaping and features that include the stations of the cross, grottos and various statues of saints and Christ. One particularly striking feature on the property is a large landscaped labyrinth located on a clearing in the forest. I found it covered in snow on my visit, and I still cho…

MIT Chapel, Cambridge, Massachusetts

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MIT Chapel, Cambridge, MassachusettsPillars & Foundations documents an exploration of communities, as well as faith through religious institutions. My intent is to share experiences, and spread the positivity that I observe. 


Building & HistoryWikipedia has a good write-up on this unique building, noting not just the unusual windowless-cylindrical sanctuary, but the landscaping. In warmer months the round sanctuary is surrounded on the outside by a reflecting pool or "moat," as it seems to be described. The trees are a crucial part of the appearance of the building, London Planetrees, they create a natural buffer to the bustle around, while the irregular lighter bark stands in contrast to the dark tones of the brick. A stained glass entryway is perhaps the one part of the structure letting light in, and for someone perhaps only casually familiar with the mid-century modern era, this section of the structure seems to especially evoke that style.


The architect Eero Saari…