A few weeks a go a friend and I visited the Bahá’í House of Worship for North America. I’ve passed by this structure many times but never visited the grounds.
First we fed our bodies with a lovely brunch at Walker Brothers’ pancake house.
After our savory and sweet pancakes we drove to the temple and parked across the street by the lovely Gillson park, but a visitor lot is also available.
Just stepping onto the grounds created a sense of serenity. There are nine gardens with fountains surrounding the nonagon building. The numerical value of the four letters ABHA, representing the prayer “AllÃ¡h u AbhÃ¡” (God is Most Glorious) in Arabic and the word baha (for Bahá’u’lláh) add up to total nine, one of reasons Bahá’í Houses of Worship are nine-sided.
Each side features a scripture and lovely intricate symbols carved into the building. This photo says: “My love is my stronghold–he that enters therein is safe and secure.”
Apparently the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago introduced the Bahá’í Faith to the United States, and gained a dedicated disciple in Corinne True, who helped identify the site of the temple. Construction on this building began in 1921 and ended in 1953 with interruptions during World War II and the Great Depression.
There are only seven Baha’i temples, and the Wilmette site is the largest and oldest surviving temple. The cladding is made of white portland cement concrete including clear and white quartz aggregate, fabricated and constructed by John Joseph Earley and the Earley Studio. Designed by principal architect Louis Bourgeouis, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It is also one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois by the Illinois Bureau of Tourism since 2007.
The Baha’i House of Worship reflects the spiritual truths of the Baha’i Faith: the oneness of God, the oneness of humanity and the oneness of religion, which I like. Each pillar has carvings of prominent symbols of various religions and faiths, representing that unity. The symbols include the Cross, the star and crescent, the Star of David, and the original swastika design, an ancient symbol having arms bent at right angles, used for thousands of years as a representative symbol of world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
We sat inside for a bit to meditate in silence and view the lovely dome. Inside the auditorium scriptures, written by Bahá’u’lláh, emphasizing our oneness with God and the world grace each entrance door. The building is open to visitors for free throughout the year, with services held at 9:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 5.15 p.m. Daily. I stared at the center of the dome for a bit, which has a lighted version of the Greatest Name in gold in Arabic (I didn’t know what it meant at the time). The seats in the auditorium face the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh in ʿAkkā, Israel.
Per Wikipedia: Bahá’í literature directs that a House of Worship should be built in each city and town, and emphasizes that its doors must be open to all regardless of religion, or any other distinction. The Bahá’í laws emphasize that the spirit of the House of Worship must be a gathering place where people of all religions may worship God without denominational restrictions.
My friend and I then sat outside in one of the gardens on a lovely day and did Goddess and Faerie Card readings, which gave us goosebumps in both of us having our intuition affirmed about the questions in our lives.
Monarchs and Cabbage Whites fluttered among the flowers, and numerous families wandered the grounds, all in a respectful and peaceful manner.
After some time we walked across the street and watched the boats in the harbor.
Then we made our way to the beach and reflected on the water.
My friend dipped her toes in.
It was a very centering afternoon for me, and I look forward to returning to the beach and the temple soon.
You can take a virtual tour here. The auditorium and gardens are open from 6 am to 10 pm and the welcome center has posted hours on the website.