On our last evening in Myanmar, we returned to the Shwedagon Pagoda just after sunset. The Yangon sky was turning a dark shade of blue as the gold tones of the pagoda were taking on a richer hue in the ambient light. Couples and families casually strolled around the pagoda in bare feet as the day’s heat subsided and the ruckus of the city turned toward a quieter weekend hum. Processions of candlelight glowed around the pagoda as people stopped to light wicks and sat quietly in honor of Buddhas and planetary posts. Shwedagon must be (now and throughout its history) psychologically significant in what it provides for the people of Myanmar. In a country with a conflicted past of military control, I can see how coming here would provide a sense of calm, safety and hope. There is also space and beauty here — easy for a tourist to find while skimming across the surface of Yangon, but probably much harder to come by if you’re entrenched in Yangon’s day-to-day struggle. We walked out and down the grand staircase, having seen one of the most magnificent places to worship in one of the world’s most challenging places to live. It’s sure thought provoking to wonder… what would religion mean to me had I simply been born in a different part of the world?