The Highway to Heaven is in Richmond, BC

Today we visited Richmond’s famous ‘Highway to Heaven.’ Developing along Highway No. 5, there are some ¬†26 religious centers, temples, synagogues, churches and gurdwaras. These centers have been eager to cooperate and recently put on an art exhibit at the Richmond Museum. We didn’t get to visit all of them, and the Shia Mosque was closed. A wonderful Chinese woman gave us a tour of the Pure Land temple and we were offered a lovely vegetarian dinner with the nuns and lay people preparing floats for Canada Day. We sat in for the last few minutes of the Tibetan Buddhist Temple’s daily chant and marvelled at the massive Shakyamuni statuary. It got me thinking; I focus on spiritual ecology, mostly on forests; so is spiritual ecology just something that occurs outside? Or is it anywhere we create a spiritual oikos, a spiritual home. Sacred spaces like¬†temples can sometimes be used to delineate sacred from profane, inside from outside; but they can also point us toward the holy in everything. Sacred spaces are microcosms of the macrocosm (the hole is in the parts). They orient us, instruct us, allow us to practice being human for when we step outside into the messy complex world. If we learn to see the holy in the particular, it can more easily be seen/felt in the universal. Thoughts?

 

Queen of Peace Monastery

After three black bear sightings in one camping trip, we could use a little peace. After a wonderful camping, hiking trip to Levette and Hut Lakes outside of Squamish, we stopped by the 82 acres of mountain forest where the Dominican Sisters of Our Queen of Peace Monastery live. When we arrived a caretaker was staring fixed through his binoculars at a Western Tanager, and hardly looked up to greet us. We ascended a steep path to the monastery and sat quietly in the simple chapel. The monastery overlooks amazing mountains, forests and glaciers and the crucifix hung in mid air. A young woman in discernment introduced herself and we talked about monasticism and the land, comparing stories. Queen of Peace was only completed in 2012, and work continues on the driveway. The nuns sell arts and crafts to support themselves. We didn’t stay long, but the place left a deep impression on me. I will be back!

 

Westminster Benedictine Abbey, Mission, BC

Here are some photos from a visit we made to Westminster Benedictine Abbey in Mission, BC. The monastery was established in 1939 by monks from Mount Angel, Oregon (near Guadalupe Abbey). The monastery covers appropriately 200 acres of farmland, seminary campus and forest. We had a chance to hike around and the forest is beautiful with gorgeous views of the Fraser River. When we arrived, a kind monk showed us around and with good sense of humor warned us that hanging around there we might turn into Catholics. He explained the confusing array of trails with hand made signs and talked about the history of the former Japanese farmers who owned the land and were removed from it during WWII. I was not expecting to like the stark modernist architecture, but the stained glass and vaulted ceilings were gorgeous and inspiring, almost mysteriously so. The abstract designs and large cement sculptures mixed tradition and modern forms and themes. It was still, quiet and beautiful.