In the foreground, a cow. In the background, an ancient monastery in Armenia called Harichavank, not far from the closed and sometimes tense border with Turkey. The picture suggests the Armenian connection to the earth; tending animals to make cheese is not a lifestyle choice but rather a necessity.
Cows are knit into daily life, not hidden outside the village for sanitary reasons. The towering roofline in the background suggests the heavenward vision of the church and the beauty of the Armenian liturgy. The church too is knit into daily life. It is typical, for example, to light candles in the sanctuary as you stroll home. The cow and the church. One without the other just wouldn’t make sense in Armenia, both sacred in their way because both give life.
Text by Pete Speiser. Photo by Anna Rudberg Speiser.
Andy Dayton, associate web producer
A few weeks ago I took a break to attend a week-long retreat in rural Wisconsin. A change of setting was refreshing, and perhaps necessary. Much of my week was spent walking through open fields and gardens, a nice contrast to my cubicle here at SOF headquarters. I also went on two excursions to some unique and inspiring places: Frank Lloyd Wright’s summer home Taliesin, and Deer Park Buddhist Center.
Both of these spaces seemed to compliment each other as meeting spaces of the old and new. Taliesin’s modern-looking organic architecture was aged to the point that it almost seemed to crumble into the hillside, while Deer Park’s traditional Buddhist decorations were placed on a brand new, modern building. Both spaces carried a certain weight that stuck with me, especially the interior of Deer Park’s temple, which you see pictured at top.
Fitting then that I returned to a staff discussion about Esther Sternberg’s new book Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-being. I’ve only just started reading it, but the book focuses on the relationship between health and the spaces we inhabit — an idea that I can easily connect with my week in Wisconsin. We’ve talked to Sternberg before — first as a voice for our program "Stress and the Balance Within," then again as part of our Repossessing Virtue series. Sternberg’s book has been showing up in some unexpected places, and it’s raised the question of whether we might have another conversation with her. I look forward to continuing her book, and perhaps hearing from her again.
Image at top: inside the Deer Park Buddhist Temple. (photo: Liz Sexe)