Ahhhh, the Temple (AKA the dance pavilion for the Voice of the Turtle Retreat Center)….

A little over two years ago I thought I was retired and not really up for more heavy work. Little did I know what I would soon be getting into. About 7 years ago, with the help of our community here in Snowflake, I was able to build a beautiful dance pavilion on our land (shown above). And seems like ever since then, our Dear Friends involved with SSC had been ”after me” (gently, for sure) to build one for them. I continued saying ”no” for years, feeling the pull of retirement to not take any more big jobs. That is, right up to the time in November 2019 when Pir Shabda called me,and somehow, persuaded me to say ”yes”. I began thinking that perhaps I could come up with a plan that would include me designing and building the components here at my shop and then take the pieces down to SSC in a ”kit’ form. We could then erect the structure there with a work party. Sounded kind-of simple to me at the time.

But, as is mostly the case for me, my inspiration typically leads me to ever greater and challenging work. So, once I actually got going on the work, after the planning and procurement of the timbers, I saw pretty quickly what I had gotten myself into (OMG, I thought, what have I done?). Add to that, we were well into the beginning of Covid. We all soon realized that there would be no summer camp that year (2020). It was a relief to not have to meet that schedule, which would have been unobtainable, as it turns out, and I probably would have hurt myself trying. So, Covid actually had a good effect on me and the project at that time. In reality, it took me over a year longer than I first figured, during which I could work at my own pace, not rushing to a deadline. Not being as spry with my chainsaw as I once was, I soon ran into difficulty milling the 12×12 Doug Fir timbers by myself. I was able to get the help I needed in the person of Aidan Tart (now a new resident at SSC). He is the young aspiring craftsman who had previously helped me complete the carving for Murshid Sam’s Dargah in record time. He came and stayed about 3 weeks with us in August ’20 to help me get the columns rough milled. Definitely a God send.

Next, I was able to carve all the corbels that fall. Taking the winter off, I started up again in the spring milling and finishing the rafters and ring beams.

At some point, our friend Jay Fann offered to carve the invocation (at no charge, I might add) on the main ring beams. He came and stayed a few weeks with us to accomplish that. He is another one who had helped me on Sam’s Dargah project.

​Meanwhile, back on the SSC land, Amos, Aidan and others were taking care of the prep work needed, including all the foundations, post anchors, porch posts installed, and pre-finishing the ceiling boards.

Then came summer 2021 and preparations were made for the great work party that fall. Work parties have been a part of our community here in Snowflake for the past 45 years and an incredible model of love and support in action. Work parties have enabled us all to accomplish things, that perhaps would not even be considered, without that mechanism. It was certainly forefront in my mind while considering the building of the dance Temple at SSC. In fact, it was a work party of about 15 people, ten years ago or so, that came together for the building of the dining ramada at SSC, that I had designed and organized. I was asked at the time by one of the locals there,” how did you get all these folks to come here and do this?” My response was, that I gave them the opportunity and they responded with LOVE. That is truly what makes work parties work (and makes the world go ’round?). So, that is also happening for this project. It was my love of the Dances, and wanting to facilitate them with the Love, Harmony and Beauty of my craft, that lead me into the process.

By August of 2021, I had roughly 20 skilled and semi-skilled workers with another 10 helpers/support people ready and willing to devote 5 days of their lives (three work days and two travel days) to the project. It was a huge outpouring of support. Then, Covid safety concerns required us to cancel the work party. What a blow to me at the time, putting the brakes on all that momentum of LOVE.

But here we are now, and we are looking forward to trying again; this time in early May. I’m certainly ready and I know others are too. For the safety of all, yet to be determined Covid protocols will be considered and requested.

This work party will be a concerted effort, well planned out and not without gumption!

Toward the One, with Big Love,
Michael Kothrade