Salvation Mountain was my first home. It was my first solace. The 54-hour Amtrak ride, the two and a half hour hitchhiking and the missed bus collectively me to Leonard Knight at the ripe age of nineteen.
Leonard lived in the desert of California for thirty years. He created what is now revered as a National Folk Art Monument, but prior to his death, and his decades of work, his ambition lay in the threads of storytelling.
His story is of unabashed love.
Returning, returning to this home provided difficult. I was terrified to see it. I had not mourned Leonard’s death, I had not seen the mountain with the man I love nor with my forever sister-friend… I had not looked myself square in the face since that first faithful moment I met the mountain and its maker four years prior.
Here I stand, the last mile home, blubbering and weeping for the place that changed everything, stuck in awe, paralyzed by its influence.
Matt held on tight. He held me firm but not tough. He emptied his love into the weeping puddle I was and his strength empowered me. His love set me free of fear the way Leonard’s love set me free of fear and for a moment, I understood it.
The grand pull of it - the power of action. Where no words can be harvested, there lies a man made mountain of colors and size, the chest and the arms of the man you love. This, I believe, is the “it” of life. The seized moment of existing not in thought but in present form, of Being brought by the power of now.
This mountain was all, is all. This beacon exists because the world breathes and because Leonard listened. Here lives call and action in the clearest form.
Today, I cannot help but wonder what we fail to see, fail to create because we are half awake, half sleeping, roaming quietly through the years were given, never waking to the light of the world.
Heavy is the energy we keep inside, full is the Earth when we least let go and share in community.
Thank you Leonard, my first love was your creation. Forever you remain, a pillar of inspiration.