Ancient Temples Growing into the Future

Tonight I visited my friends who own property across the mountain, RB Morris and Karly Stribling, who were bringing their daughter Oona, one month old, to her mountain nest for the first time. In 2004, RB and Karly invited me here from California as I was considering a move in this direction. They helped me find my new home and to relocate. They are my oldest friends in this part of the world.

RB bought his piece of land here during the tumultuous years of the 70’s. He as a poet, playwright, songwriter and musician navigating the world of the arts in Knoxville, Nashville and San Francisco had the vision to buy (from his meager artists earnings) this jewel of property. His heart and dreams have been tethered to these mountains all through the years of his work in the larger world. His wife Karly, an artist in Knoxville, fell in love with and became a part of the vision and call of the mountain; and now they bring Oona.

Their house is being constructed stone by stone as they can afford the materials and the time to build it. RB and Karly are as patient as time in bringing this home into reality. I’m not talking about normal patience, I’m talking about a patience that resembles nature herself. Over decades their place has been thought out, designed, land moved bit by bit, foundations poured and foundational stone walls are put into place.

 Tonight as we sat around the outdoor fire on a Full Moon night with a brilliant sky full of stars, the light of the fire illuminating the roofless foundational walls, I felt myself to be at the ruins of an ancient temple, like the Parthenon, rather than at new place being built. An ancient vision is literally growing out of that mountaintop and entering the future.

I wrote last evening thoughts about the artists Salvador Dali and Federico Garcia Lorca, noticing the differing uses of their art. In RB’s artistic expressions I hear deeply felt messages about the soul of place; a power so often left behind and untapped in this global world of everyone belonging to everywhere and nobody belonging to anywhere in particular. An intimate relationship with place, both here on the mountain and in the unique artistic culture of Knoxville have informed RB’s art. I felt  I could see the seeds of his love and labor growing right out of the mountain tonight, just as I see my garden sprouting new plants. Something ancient and something new is emerging.

In a recent dream I saw an ancient temple sitting right on top of a skyscraper. Surely that impression helped me view everything as I did tonight. But I think it is true; the ancient is unfolding into the new.

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