I have been thinking a lot about the design of a neighborhood and how it could be adapted to better serve both the material and spiritual needs of its inhabitants.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have no background in urban planning, urban design, or anything remotely close to the necessary fields to actually create a proposal. However, I am an inhabitant, and it is in this capacity that I share my thoughts.
My Neighborhood’s Strengths
I feel like my neighborhood is fantastic when it comes to material, emotional, and mental needs. It is criss-crossed with buses that go towards the city centre, as well as other places with a high concentration of work offices, making commuting to and from here quite easy; there is a number of grocery stores that are easily accessible and close-by; there is a significant number of coffee shops that cater to all kinds of tastes (including one that has a big play area for children 2 and up); a gorgeous community library; a great number of beautiful parks; and a number of places where we can meet people and socialise.
My Neighborhood’s Weaknesses
But when it comes to my spiritual needs, I often feel like there isn’t much. There are a couple of churches, and sometimes I have been lucky to find one open when I’m taking baby for a walk and I was able to slip in for prayers. There are some study groups that delve into religious Scripture, but there isn’t enough diversity for me to find a group I really fit in, other than the Bahá’í study groups I am already a part of.
I Wish Upon a Star…
I was reminded of this lack at the announcement of the unveiling, held in mid-June 2017 on the beautiful island of Vanuatu, of a House of Worship which, although built by the Bahá’ís, is meant to welcome everyone. The news articles and their accompanying pictures struck a chord of deep longing in me. I found myself wishing that, in the middle of one of the beautiful green spaces here, something like this existed: the opening of a central location, a beautiful yet simple, quiet place, open for long hours, where I could go however many times a week—or even a day!—that I felt compelled to go. While I’m quite grateful that, at the very least, there are beautiful, quiet parks and well-kept, inspiring churches, there is something about the graceful design of a House of Worship that thrills me to my very core.
Most importantly, I wish I had a place like this to regularly take my baby to. Because while I do pray with her regularly and take her to various services and study group meetings, there is something about the quiet serenity of a House of Worship that I wish I could expose her to. This space has had such an effect on me every time I was able to enter it, that I can’t help but wish I could expose my baby’s tender heart to it at the earliest time possible.