The Wailing Wall in Israel was overwhelming and unforgettable

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This is one of my favorite photos from my travels. I usually approach religious sites with academic curiosity, but the energy I felt at the wailing wall in Israel was overwhelming and unforgettable.

I watched from afar as many individuals approached the wall, put their hands on it, poured their faith into it, and quietly secured their prayer notes in stone before slipping away, back into the crowd.

I took pictures from a distance, but I wasn’t capturing any of what I was witnessing. I moved closer, and closer still, until eventually I found myself leaving a little prayer note of my own in the wall.

Before I walked away, I put my hand on the wall and something unexpected happened. I cried.

Centuries of emotion and pilgrimage swept over me as I touched the wall. It was incredible. I removed my hand and backed into the crowd, but before I got too far, I turned around and snapped this photo. It is the only one that I felt truly captured the experience.

Jerusalem, Israel

~ LiAnn

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The holy city of Varanasi was incredibly moving. This is what I wanted to experience more than anything on this trip. We watched as men oversaw the cremation ceremonies for their fathers and devotees sat on the steps or in boats on the Ganges as they placed their candle lit wishes into to sacred water.

I am always moved by the energy humans tap into when they look upon something with great reverence. It does not matter what their religion – or lack thereof – or if they draw on that energy in a temple, church, mosque, or simply by gazing at the stars and feeling at one with the universe – that pure, beautiful energy has so many names and is found through such varying vehicles, but it’s essence is the same.