As dawn breaks, the sky lights up to reveal the beauty of Angkor Wat. Cloaked in the darkness of the night, it sits quietly, waiting patiently for the sun to crest the trees. Known as one of the largest religious monuments in the world, it covers almost 162.6 hectares. Despite the crowds that come to witness it’s unveiling, there is a uncanny silence.
I’ve come here to pray.
As I kneel before a Buddhist monk, dressed in his traditional orange colored robe and receive my blessing, my mind wanders. I recall conversations of religion with my son. Ryan was inquisitive and curious. Too practical growing up, he often questioned what he read in the Bible or heard in a sermon. He grew up in a household that was a mix of Anglican and Catholicism. But religious we were not. We absolutely subscribed to the belief of love, kindness, caring for others and responsibility to uphold the laws laid out before us. We had faith of a oneness that connects us all together but did not often attend a formal service.
But I have always prayed.
Walking in nature, seeing the rugged landscapes, vast and wild, that lay before me, I marvel at their creation. Traveling lands that are far from home and surveying the beauty this world holds, I am in awe. Looking into faces that hold reverence and love, I know that I am not and have never been alone.
I also have this unyielding faith. That we are borne to create, to serve, to fulfill a purpose, even if it is not always known to us. Perhaps in this way, we can move ourselves and mankind forward.
As the holy water splashes upon my face, they feel like the tears of my ancestors come to share my grief. Centuries of loved ones gently holding me up so that I might rest for a moment. Space to breathe.
I bring my hands to a prayer position and whisper thank you.
As I stand in the warm sunlight and look around these ancient ruins, I feel my son’s approval.
Ryan may never have found a place in one religion or another, but he saw, felt and understood unconditional love.
“Humanity should be our race. Love should be our religion.” ~ Unknown