The fifth haiku written for the Temple of Promise. Here, I am examining the lines of text I remember writing on the Temple walls, my notes that burned with countless other notes. I wrote a secret, a farewell, and two hellos. When the smoke billowed from the Temple, all these words transformed.
This is the third piece in the haiku collection dedicated to this year’s Temple of Promise.
As I have expressed once before, the Temple burn tends to be a very solemn and spiritual manifestation of Black Rock’s collective experience.
It’s customary for Burners to make the journey to the Temple and spend some time meditating, perusing, and basking in the sacred space. Many write letters, notes, good-byes on the wooden walls and support beams themselves. Memorials, pictures, photo album pages, mini shrines constructed in the nooks and crannies, all building blocks which make the entire structure become a living monument, a vacuum of desperate love, guilt, loneliness, and disbelief and often times moments of peace. And when it burns, it is like Christianity’s practice of Communion, where the Priest’s blessing is said to change the bread and wine to the blood and body of Christ and eating it is believed to wash away sins. Every memento, picture, and written word of farewell covering the Temple’s surface coalesces, chars, and floats away ash-like into the air, and with it, our guilt, fear, and sadness.
When I wrote my good-byes, it was joyous. Yet, months later, I must admit the Temple may not have burned away 100% of the emotion I was looking to get rid of. In what ways had the burn changed me and in what ways did it fancy itself nothing more than a selfish art piece?
I rarely premise a Letter from the Playa with any sort of introduction. However, the Temple of Promise going down this year really shaped my entire experience and I wanted to deconstruct that effect it had on me with a minimalist approach. The 2015 Temple burn was quite different for me. While many were mentally reaching out to loved ones or saying their solemn goodbyes, I was internally celebrating a loss.
This is the first in a line of haikus dedicated to the Temple of Promise. Haikus are seemingly easy, but much like a controlled fire, they can promptly surprise you. I challenge you to read it a few times, slowly at first, and perhaps it will ignite a fond memory. I hope you enjoy. (Photo credit: Jim Urquhart / Reuters)