Young Chinese girl in a temple


“I began to think of the soul as it were a castle made of a single diamond…”

St. Teresa of Avila

In 1985 I traveled to China to help install computer systems for Digital Equipment Corporation. These systems were to be used in the construction of the 3 Gorges Dam in Hubei Province. All “Foreign Guests” were assigned a political handler who would carefully watch how we interacted with the the engineers who would be using the systems. It was pretty clear that we wouldn’t be talking about anything other than computers. This was a very interesting visit.

There were several systems to install in different locations and one was located quite a distance from the hotel in Wuhan where I spent most of my time. We traveled in a van and my hosts supplied me with beer as we drove along muddy roads through the countryside. Chinese beer is very good and I learned to appreciate it at room temperature. I had asked to visit any temples that we might pass and they obliged. Most of these were just crowded with people milling around and smoking and it didn’t fit my image of what I expected to be a quiet and reflective place. China has freedom of religion as long as it practiced in places sanctioned by the government.

Yet in the midst of he hustle and bustle in the temples, I saw this.

Prayer by John Poltrack on


Incense by John Poltrack on


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