Bilateral relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been fraught with hostility, tension and confrontation. I recently had a first hand experience of this situation throughout my pilgrimage trip to Saudi Arabia.
Megisti Lavra perches majestically atop a cliff 520 feet above the crashing foam and rocks, more like a small walled town. On the outside, you have the regulation square tower and the jutting painted wooden balconies. Within, there are a whole series of buildings.
Overwhelmed by the savagely wild beauty of its forested mountains, precipitously rugged cliffs and plunging emerald valleys, she asked her son, who just happened to be God, to make it her garden which, true to filial piety, he did.
But who was Patrick? How would he feel about his name now framing a day where no one wants to be the designated driver and we all pretend to be Irish? Last spring I went on a quest to find out and traveled to the Emerald Isle to walk in the saint's footsteps.
Last summer, cellist Dane Johansen hiked 580 miles across the northern rim of Spain. His plan was to record the Bach Cello Suites in the churches that line the ancient pilgrimage route known as the Camino de Santiago and turn the experience into a documentary.
The significance of this mountain lies more in its religious significance. Brahmagiri is located only a few kilometers from Triambakeshwar, the source of the river Godavari, one of the major river systems of South India.
The heady aroma of incense is contrasted by the stench of garbage, the cobblestone pathways are coated red with paan, and the chant of a sanyasi is interposed by the groan of a passing buffalo. That's Varanasi in a nutshell for you.
Pilgrimages have always been a big part of every culture's spiritual ethos. As a Hindu, perhaps one of the most important pilgrimages to make would be the one to Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar in the Himalayas.
Beginning in May, I will walk nearly 600 miles on the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route beginning in France and crossing Spain to the Atlantic Ocean. I will carry my cello, performing and recording Bach's Suites in ancient churches along the way.
What if we chose not only to recognize the power of storytelling, but to genuinely value all stories -- anecdotes, objects, memories, causes, narratives, critiques, impressions, the little things we so often overlook?