Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Heavenly Mist, Earthly Dew: Poetry, Photography and Reflections is a nonfiction collection written by Kimberlee J. Benart. The author visited the Baha’i Gardens, located in and around Haifa, Israel, three times within a thirty-year time span. Her first visit was an intensive week and a half long pilgrimage which she made when she was in her late twenties. Her most recent trip was made after her retirement. Her Acknowledgements page indicates that the “Baha’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.” The site is filled with intricate gardens, buildings that range in style from classical to modern, and shrines to the founder of the Baha’i faith and his family. Benart’s poetry was directly inspired by the gardens, the peaceful environs and her own reactions to the natural beauty and antiquity of the site.
Heavenly Mist, Earthly Dew is a lush and lovely montage celebrating the Baha’i Gardens and the author’s spiritual connection to this historic place. Her poetry brings the reader right into the poet’s experiences as she waits to enter a holy place in her poem entitled This Stony Walk: “With crunch of stones beneath my feet, I join the line,/Wobbling in slow maneuver. So quietly we proceed;/No sound but what the stones make beneath our feet./What will come into my mind once I get there?/What into my heart?/.../At last I have come from afar to take this walk,/this stony walk.” Benart shares the expectant hush, expresses the reverential quietness of those waiting to enter a shrine so eloquently. One can almost hear the stones crunching underfoot and watch as those waiting slowly move forward in line.
Benart’s photography is marvelous! Each picture is beautifully composed, giving the reader a good sense of the geometry that informs the visitor to these gardens, the careful planning of lines, plants, colors and architecture. The photographs are sharp, filled with contrasts and dazzling with color and light. I especially enjoyed reading the anecdotes that often accompanied her pictures. Heavenly Mist, Earthly Dew blends travel and the author’s unique way of looking at the world and the life of the spirit. It’s most highly recommended.