Surrounded by mountains and endless high-desert plains,
amidst naked blue people, artists, fire dancers,
and dusty cars dressed as giant bunnies,
this was last place I expected to find solace,
Like an ancient pagoda, the temple stretched to the sky,
every wooden piece of her touched by human hands,
by those who built her with hammers and perseverance,
and by those who wrote messages of loss on her body,
One inscription said “Dear Mom, I miss you every day”,
another read “To my lost innocence, I’m sorry”.
next to his drawing my son’s message said,
“Boo Boo, you were the best kitty ever. I love you”.
As tradition, at sunset on the night of temple’s burn,
its creator greeted those who gathered in a circle,
looked each person in the eye, grasped each hand,
and said in a calm voice “it’s not your fault”.
As darkness came the circle grew,
the haunting music of gongs, bells and chants,
along with the sweet incense that embraced us,
was as calming as being rocked like a baby.
At last the temple was set ablaze by silver-suited firemen,
and silence blanketed the crowd of twenty five thousand,
only the sound of crackling wood could be heard,
as families held each other closely and shared breath.
The beauty of the seventy foot flames was hypnotic,
but the real story was in the faces of those around us,
each glowed from the flames and glistened with tears,
their souls exposed with expressions of sorrow and relief.
The crowd gasped in unison as the inflamed structure fell,
causing one lone voice from above to yell out,
“Shut up, you’re ruining my spiritual experience”,
which releases the heaviness that had settled in around us.
The sudden sound of laughter felt like a cool mist,
smiles spread the like burning embers on the wind,
still just as tired and covered in dust, we moved on,
but with our souls feeling somehow lighter and new again.