Thursday, August 4, 2016
Our first stop on our vacation was the oldest Temple of Life in the Empire, located five hours away in the mountains. It’s still in use, but people are allowed to stay overnight.
Unlike the free-standing structure on Haven Colony, this temple was carved right into a mountain. That probably doesn’t sound so impressive given Kalquorians live in mountains and cliffs as a rule and are used to making habitable structures out of what nature gives. Yet when it comes to this particular structure, ‘impressive’ doesn’t begin to approach the place.
This particular Temple of Life isn’t simply a hollowed-out mine within a mountain. It’s not a series of caves cut into the rock. When I call this place carved, I mean CARVED from top to bottom, inside and out. With columns. With architectural details like arches and buttresses. With historical scenes and people’s portraits cut with the utmost precision into the walls. These aren’t crude renderings I’m talking about. The animals and people in the designs would fool me into thinking they’re the real thing if they weren’t the color of the stone. I have never seen anything like this place. I think I could spend the rest of my life in here and never see every bit of the artwork that it possesses.
The rooms the priests gave us to sleep in are no different. Every inch of the walls and ceilings have patterns or scenes or some design worked into the stone. I have yet to get out all of my toiletries to get ready for sleep. Every time I try to unpack something, a carving I didn’t notice before catches my eye and I have to stop and examine it.
More than the astounding surroundings, this place feels like peace. I swear there is some sort of aura about the temple, this sensation of overwhelming calm the moment you get near it. And inside, it’s like stepping through a containment field where trouble cannot penetrate. It’s like perfect serenity has a home and this is it.
We had so much fun when we first got here today, exploring the chambers and talking to the priests. As usual, Anrel was a hit with everyone we encountered, priests and tourists alike. It’s a good thing she seems to instantly like everyone she comes in contact with. She’s such a happy baby, always smiling at everyone around her.
We attended a class on getting in touch with our better instincts. At first I thought it was a little silly. Discount what our minds and the evidence tells us when our guts say differently? Even when the proof of our intellect seems overwhelming? But the more I listened, the more I realized I’d done such things on some level at different points in my life. I remembered my horrified reaction to the Little Creep the first time I saw him. Boy, had I been right about him. I’d been quick to trust Candy in an atmosphere where I knew I had few Earther friends. I’d been right about her too. So maybe there was something to it. At any rate, I found the discussion fascinating.
I will say one thing about the Temple of Life: the priests don’t seem to judge anyone for anything. I overheard more than one person ask for opinions on ethical dilemmas. Instead of saying, “you should do this,” or “you’d better not do that,” the priests gently probed the person’s beliefs for what they felt was right in their situation. Rather than dictate, they provided directions towards the paths that could be taken, pointing out the pros and pitfalls of each choice. Then they left it up to the person to choose their own way.
They don’t even charge for letting people spend the night and eat their food, as Betra, Oses, Anrel, and I are doing. Their attitude is, if you are moved to donate then do so. We were moved, all right. I put half next month’s allowance into the place. If our whole vacation was spent here, I’d be perfectly content. However, we’re on our way again the day after tomorrow.
Betra just asked if I want to take a shower with him and Oses now that Anrel’s asleep. Hee hee, it seems particularly naughty to do stuff like that in a holy place … except I’ve seen some scenes carved around this mountain that make pleasure clubs look innocent. I think I might have to convert.