by Christine “Sis” Dye / Camp Bayou
The burning of the mausoleum the next night was the spiritual experience that became the highlight of the trip and changed us all before we left. All I know is sitting in the midst of the midst of the most intense dust storm I have ever seen contemplating the unknown sober in front of a burn platform feeling the emotions arise from the storm and the burn of the temple…a loss for words.
And then again, the moment Trey, Todd, and I walked up to the temple after the dust storm lessened and I could see it burnt across the sky trailing in front of us. The biggest money shot I have ever seen. In the distance, below the glow, a line, a dark shape becoming the crowd emerging into view. Art cars parked around the circle of humanity gathered to share the tears and anger hanging in the air.
Moving closer, the feelings of tribe, but not a closeness. Really it was a wildness, a primal state. Unlike the man, where I could not bear to be outside of the fire…Where you felt drawn, forced into the circle to celebrate…here I sensed a warning, an uneasiness, the perception that chaos could explode at any given moment. The anger, the sadness, and the confusion of the act pervaded the air.
On the edge of the crowd, the music took over and I was lulled into a trance like state standing staring at the stilt walkers silhouetted above us all speaking to us, arranging their limbs in strange hieroglyphics. Signaling to me the danger inherent in opening up to death. The pain of mourning and my own personal grief mixed with others floating beside me surrounding me as I stand transfixed by the shadows reaching towards me. Their elongated hands beckoning me forward to take the risk that night and release my own fears and despair. To own them and at once not own them at all. To become part of the community in a larger sense, to become part of the temple of tears. To give myself and retain nothing but my memory. To heal…
And let all others heal. We turned our backs to the temple and walked on. This feeling followed me. This feeling that engulfed all the playa as the storm had earlier. Perhaps carried by the storm itself, I was reminded of the philosophical question we had been discussing while trapped on the wooden bench in front of the burn at eight o’clock and esplanade…
What we do here. Is it truly affecting the patterns of life on earth? What we do here. Good or bad, does it really matter? Could we be influencing another halfway across the planet? Just like the dust storm charging across the playa, ideas moving from one person to another, thoughts gathering and moving another to action. If it stops here in this moment, does it mean that it stopped everywhere else?
The storm stopped. The thought spoken.
The temple burned. The idea heard.
The ashes flew. The word traveled
—- All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well…
Julian of Norwich