The Temple at Kiwiburn

Apr 22, 2015 | Burning Man, Kiwiburn, The Temple

We asked a veteran Kiwiburner what the Temple means to him:

Life is full of heights and depths, whether we like it or not.  We run headlong towards the heights and we tend to find satisfying ways to pretend that the depths aren’t really there.  A few days of radical height-seeking on the Paddock can lead to finding yourself in a moment where you’re either looking for a little depth… or the depth is simply unavoidable.

Every year the Temple crew put months of effort into designing and constructing the Temple for us, to create a space in which we get to be a little more reverent and introspective than we tend to be elsewhere on the Paddock.  Some call that space sacred.  Some call it therapeutic.  Some call it spiritual.  Some see it as an extended forum for their award-winning facebook posts. The walls of the Temple get adorned with all kinds of poetry and prose and art and heartfelt thought.  There are expressions of appreciation, celebration, tribute, inspiration, discovery, healing.  And, conversely, expressions of loss, grief, torment, defiance, survival, release.

Some folks come with planned tributes, maybe a photo or a small symbolic item to go up in smoke with the Temple.  Many visit with no specific intention, but upon reading the walls find themselves internally connecting to something they weren’t aware they were harbouring.  Some people choose to detail the worthy merits of their favourite (or least favourite) person.  Others summarise the learnings of their most recent chapter of life.  Some share their dark secrets, their shame, their overcoming.  Many folks have just waded into yet another bloody stage of the grieving process (this one is the last one, right?).

There is permission here for the hardest clenched eyes to leak honest joy, sadness, fear and anger onto the walls.  If the timing’s right, hugs may ensue.  Conversation may stutter into a sincere dialogue.  The kind of thing that leads to many places. And when the Temple burns, all that bold expression goes… well, wherever it goes, whatever that may mean for you.  While the flames reduce the structure to coals, a lot of people are still working internally, digesting whatever it is that those heights and depths have provided them to reflect upon.

Which is why the Temple burn is so considerately quiet.  As the Temple crew create a space for people to do all this icky caring serious loving hard stuff, our collective silence encircles and sustains that space, giving people a flickering extension to reflect upon what they’ve released.

 

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