The other day I was driving along the lake just north of Chicago in the 'burbs, and got out of my car to take a picture of a local landmark which, in all my years here on the North Shore, I'd never photographed before.
A very brief backstory.
When I was growing up, there were only three Baha'i Temples in the world. Today, there are more, but just barely, still a mere eight. That's not a whole lot of houses of worship for an international religion. If you've ever seen a picture of a Baha'i Temple, you can see they're magnificent structures, but however gloriously you build it, that's still hardly many. And not only are they few, but they're dotted in exotic or obscure locales around the globe, like Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and Kampala, Uganda, and Delhi, India.
And for reasons I've never been able to understand -- in Wilmette, Illinois. On Sheridan Road, bordering Lake Michigan
As far as I can tell, the North Shore suburbs of Chicago is not, nor has ever been (nor likely will ever be) a hot bed of the Baha'i faithful. Sheridan Road borders Lake Michigan which is laden with old-money mansions. The El that takes you to Wrigley Field is four blocks away. My high school, New Trier, is about a mile north. If you watched the original Bob Newhart Show, when Dr. Hartley left his exclusive high-rise in the opening credits, that luxury complex of apartment buildings was just down the road
And in the midst of all that was, at the time, one of only three ultra-magnificent Baha'i Temples on earth.
Seriously, I have no idea what they were thinking. Maybe they spun a globe and threw a dart.
Mind you, I've always been glad it was there. It was always a joy to drive along the winding Sheridan Road and see the tip of the temple's dome peek through the trees, and then as you curved around the street, this majestic structure from another time would loom up.
Over all the many years I've driven past the Baha'i Temple, I only went in once. There may have been other rooms for worshiping or meeting, but all I remember is just one big open room and a very high view upward. It was a fascinating combination of simple and ornate -- the design was meticulous and gorgeous (as you might suspect), but it was fairly barebones. I also don't recall any clergy "officials" there, though I'd think there had to have been. But it was all very low-key, and meditative.
I only mention this all so that the next time you're planning to go to Tiapapata, Samoa, to visit a Baha'i Temple, just know there's one closer.
You can't miss it. It's right across the street from Gillson Park.