Here I present two different photos of two different locations in two different parts of the world. They are worshipers of two different religions in two different cultures. Yet they both fit into my conceptualization of the theme “Renewal” for this week’s photo challenge.
Rooted in the human psyche is a universal need inside many people to seek renewal of their faith with the god(s) they believe in through prayers and offerings. This is true of the eastern inasmuch as of the western world. It was an ordinary weekday when I visited the Long Shan Temple in Taipei, Taiwan and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Israel, and both places were crowded with devout believers offering their prayers or reading their holy texts. Their body language and their facial expressions suggested that they were very focused on their activities. My visual images only capture part of the experience, because you have to add in the rhythmic chanting that resonated in the background. It is powerful!
To me, the emphasis is first on the “re-” in “renewal”. The process is not creating something entirely new. It is an activity to bring forth a new element based on what is already there. In the tangible world, clicking the “Reload” or “Refresh” buttons on the computer allows us to come back to the same page, but sometimes with new information when it has become available. In religious terms, the renewal of a person’s faith is to bring one closer again to his or her god(s) by reaffirming one’s belief in the religion as well as one’s hope and gratitude about blessings.
In broader philosophical and existential terms, “renewal” applies to reminding ourselves of our beliefs in life and our hopes for a new day on the basis of what we have experienced so far, be it positive, negative or neutral. What has been already there in us is not lost, but it is the foundation which supports us to see a bigger picture, to breathe fresher air and to gain a different perspective. Let us not forget the second aspect: the “new” element in “renewal”. We cannot lock ourselves in the cell of our own past with the shackles of memories, be they good or bad. Reliving the past is not renewal. It stops us from growth. We must not be afraid of losing ourselves–because we will not–by renewing our knowledge, our faith and ourselves as a person. The is the process of enrichment through living.