The pilgrimage to rediscovering your self

So finally, we are on the road. The journey is long from San Diego and a lot of hours behind the wheel. Sometimes it feels like you never going to get there, a lot of stops for gas, restroom, narrow roads and slow moving. I become impatient. Ants in my pants. The car is cramped and no room to move. That is no joke. I even have an outburst with my beautiful daughter I was riding with, Ashleigh. We had it out, but I believe it was just the ride and nothing else.

We arrive at the gates around I believe 2:00 a.m. Long wait, a lot of people just excited to be there. Humpy bumpy road, dust, dust, dust. We get inside after checkpoint and wait for everyone else to get there, and finally we find our campground and start setting up camp. By now it’s 5:30 a.m.

What a great sunrise! Its funny; that was the first sunrise for me in like 23 years. Where I live, you only see sunsets.

Now everyone is helping each other to set up and, like ants, it gets done faster with teamwork. We’re all tired — I know I’m dead from driving almost all day/night. So we all rested.

At nightfall, we all get on our bikes and venture on the playa. Wow, it’s out of this world for me. So many colors, neon, lasers… I’m blown away by all of it. It’s like Thanksgiving, Xmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, name a holiday and it’s here.

When you’re out there on the playa riding your bike, nothing matters: time, your bills, who you have to meet and when. I become at peace with myself. I become part of the dust I was covered in. I become closer to my daughter than ever before. I feel her feeling, cry with her, hold her hand, talk the night away like never before, and feel the pain and suffering we both endured. It’s like nothing I felt before, and I am grateful for that.

To all the parents out there wondering what your kids are doing and where they are, call them, hang out with them, feel what they feel, and you will see a totally different world. After all, it’s their time to shine and glow and show the world who they are. Thats what Burning Man taught me.

by Soheil Soheil

Could Burning Man replace religion? For real?

Photo taken at Center Camp.

When Christian media first got wind of Burning Man, they accused it of being the latest fad in Satanism.

They still do that … apparently Satan’s had a slow decade … but now there are so many articles with the premise of “my time at Burning Man as a Christian” that it’s practically its own genre – and many of these articles posit that Burning Man is something the Church can learn from, and that there is a place for the Cross at the Man.

There’s Phil Wyman’s recent article in Christianity Today – along with numerous posts on his blog. Wyman, incidentally, also creates Christian themed art for the playa that fits in perfectly with the rest of our patented brand of madness. (I wrote about one of his pieces here, and he strongly disagreed with my take here, but there’s no question in my mind that his work contributes fittingly to our ethos.)

There’s Steve Matthews posting for The Worldview Center, which is mostly critical (and badly misinformed) but still asks “What the church can learn from Burning Man.” There’s a number of posts about Burning Man on the Sidewalk Theologian blog. And many more.

Which begs a question I’ve been wondering for a while: When exactly did a Cacophony sponsored trip to the desert to build art and shoot guns transform into a major spiritual pilgrimage for the Western world?

Whether or not it’s appropriate to think of Burning Man in those terms, there’s no question that many people do. The number of camps offering morning yoga has increased alarmingly in just the last few years. A number of people talk about Burning Man as though it were an alternative to mainstream religion – as, for example, this recent Huffington Post blog suggesting that because Burning Man fits Joseph Campell’s criteria for a religion it’s ready to hit the big leagues. And as a Volunteer Coordinator for Burning Man, I receive hundreds of volunteer applications every year that say something like this: (more…)