Another glimpse at the desert exploration Liz and I took, and our visit to to Salvation Mountain. After miles on a dirt road driving through vast flatlands, which I can only describe as pure nothingness (with an abandoned town or two along the way), the last thing one would expect to see is this technicolored castle, standing strong, bright and all alone.
This special place was built and nurtured by one amazing man, Leonard Knight, who passed away last year after devoting 25 years of his life to a creative work inspired by pure love for his God. It is an artistic expression of his belief that God’s love is universal and excludes no one.
Love is a simple “word” with a strength that was so powerful to Mr. Knight that he chose to dedicate well over two decades constructing something tangible that would represent what he felt, in his heart, to be true. He lived in seclusion (aside from the occasional passerby who came to see Leonard’s place of worship), and slept in a small pickup truck. He said these were the best years of his life.
I have said it before, but I am a person who has faith yet I don’t fully identify with any particular organized religion. In my mind, generally speaking, I feel everyone should be entitled to have their own beliefs (religious, cultural, political, etc.) without being chastised, so long as they are not chastising or physically hurtful to others, and sand on a foundation that includes kindness and respect for the human race.
Leonard’s mission had nothing to do with the many outside influences society has a tendency to push. It wasn’t about one church being “better than” another church, or whose beliefs are right whose are wrong. It all goes back to LOVE, and a passion for it’s infinite and non-discriminatory nature.
So if you ever find yourself driving through the California desert, I highly suggest you make the trek to Salvation Mountain. Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, whatever you want to call yourself – it is a national treasure, an unconventional work of art, and an inspiring landmark created by a quirky guy who thought for himself, constructed with admirable purpose, and never thought twice when it came to coloring outside the lines.