In December 2011, Luke and I created the initial list of places we wanted to see and made a plan to begin checking them off. We planned to spend every weekend thereafter tirelessly clamoring around Upstate NY knocking on the doors of sacred grounds in hopes to experience them first hand. Our first day out was the first Saturday in January and was a bust–every place we went was locked. We sat in our car and began calling places to see who might be open and received only recorded messages. We realized that we were gonna have to plan a bit better and not just wing it by showing up on a church doorstep uninvited. We sat down at the South Wedge Diner and made a plan, and that’s when things got really serious.
We make our list based on places we’ve researched online or read in books somewhere. Historical relevance, obscurity, architecture…any unique quality that stands out to us. It’s pretty common for one of us to receive an email from the other one late at night with the subject line ‘DUDE! You’ve gotta see this…..” and then the list becomes one item longer. It seems that for every single place we learn about and visit, two more get added! We’ve asked for input from our readers about new places to visit, but that was a year ago. We are serious: if you know of a place we might even be remotely interested in, share it with us!!
We didn’t really know how long we’d continue this hobby, or how often we’d go exploring, or how often we’d post on the blog, or really any of it. We had a plan to visit sacred places of all religious backgrounds, and the rest happened naturally and is everything that has ened up on this blog. We originally set out with only one goal: to be seeing places we felt were intriguing for the reasons stated above and the rest would just happen. What happened was, Luke and I had some of the most extraordinary and rare opportunities life could have brought us. The project has become bigger than we expected, and probably bigger than the two of us. Originally, the most ardent readers of our blog posts were our loving and supportive parents and close friends, but then we noticed people we had never heard of landing on and commenting on the blog. For me, the importance of the project lies exactly there: the storytelling and connections with people.
We’ve met some fantastic friends over the last year, all of whom who have an entirely different belief about who g(G)od is from one another. What was important to me was their desire to share their stories and their time with Luke and I, wearilessly answering our incessant inquisitions about everything down to ‘hey what kind of bricks are those??’ or ‘Can I flip this switch to see what it does?’ or ‘Have you been up in the bell tower?? What’s it like??’. Luke became a father this year, and I can assume he’ll be fielding questions in a few years like ‘Daddy, why is the sky blue?’ and he’ll think “Wow. That’s what Chris and I sound like huh?”. Good luck buddy.
As I’m writing this, it’s believed that Westboro Baptist Church is on their way to my hometown of Webster, NY to protest the funeral of two dedicated firefighters, this just a couple weeks after a massive school shooting in Newtown, CT, just a few weeks after a mass shooting in a movie theatre in CO…… Without waxing too intellectual on the state of our world or civilization’s growth and/or decay, it’s safe to say that the events that have occurred globally, locally and personally are proof that the world we currently occupy is in serious need of healing. Regardless of your spiritual background, it’d be tough to deny that we’re becoming more and more separated as a civilization. Whether it’s political, ethnic, religious or just a communication issue driven by the progress of technology, it’s safe to say that the 60′s mantra of “peace, love and understanding” is something we are in need of now more than ever. Ironically, the Burned Over District in NY was entirely the result of a people bereft of spiritual enlightenment, and their efforts to find solace in the higher meaning of their faith–maybe we haven’t come all that far in 200 years afterall. Regardless, for Luke and I, there’s been no better way to learn about the world than to go out in it and start asking for people to share with us–and we are eternally grateful for those who have responded in gracious hospitality and kindness.
2012 was a huge year for us, but I’m willing to bet that with a year of exploring faith systems and sacred places under our belts, we’ve built the foundation to make 2013 just as interesting. We wanted to use this post to extend our well wishes to our followers, and to give thanks for those who follow, and more importantly for those who have impacted us this year by connecting with us in person.
Many thanks to you all! Have a fantastic and safe New Year!
“You can’t be lost if your goal is to see new things.” -I forgot who said this.
40-45 – Sites visited (depending on how you count a ‘site’)
21 – Different faith systems
16.5 – Number of arguments on whether we would stop at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts
787 – Highest number of hits on the blog in a single day
More Stuff to Checkout:
The Democrat and Chronicle article that Jeff Spevak wrote about us here.
A guest post we did on one of our favorite Rochester, NY history blogs here.
A Facebook page that we set up so we didn’t have to keep spamming our personal friends on Facebook–you’re welcome.
Here’s a few photos you haven’t seen yet: