Bali beguiles: its lush beauties, the deliciousness of its spiced dishes, the gentle loveliness of its people—all wonderful and welcoming. But in our week there, what repeatedly struck us was the remarkably easygoing, yet attentive, spirituality of the Balinese people. The Balinese integrate their very visible spirituality (temples everywhere, colorful devotional offerings made and placed by seemingly all citizens) with their hospitality and friendliness toward visitors. The expression of their religion never seemed stifling or oppressive—it’s seamlessly woven into the fabric of their daily lives.
People in all walks of life left daily offerings—sometimes the tiniest expression of spirit, like a one-inch woven bit of palm with a flower petal and some rice—on walkways or on shelves where a passerby might or might not see it. One day while we were there, all of the vehicles (including many motorcycles) were crowned with colorful offerings of scarves and food, to bless the travel of the vehicle's owners. Trees were beautifully bedecked with garlands and flags. And so many Balinese seem to be artists, with the ability to paint, sculpt or perform their spiritually grounded art with great craft.
That sense of serene appreciation of beauty and spirit characterized the Balinese people for me; the beauties of the island itself seemed inextricably entwined with the beauties its people.