Don Talley follows the light on his latest adventure
If you’re ever in an adventurous mood, you can take on the surging hairpin curves of Route 9 south for eight miles, turn up a steep sandy drive and bear right at the top of the rise.
There you will come upon The Light Center’s geodesic dome and over one hundred acres of untouched woodland and a stream. You will also likely encounter Don Talley, the Center’s new administrative director.
In a sense, the surging drive, the wondrous setting, and Talley’s presence are all related when you consider his longstanding quest to make every day a venture into the inner or outer realms of existence.
For an example of the outer, he once went out on an archaeological dig where they were excavating the remains of Spanish Fort San Juan in Western North Carolina, circa 1567.
In addition, back in the day he often traveled over an hour-and-a-half from the small town of Greer, outside of Greenville, South Carolina, to Black Mountain’s McDibbs folk venue on Cherry Street to hear iconic musicians like Doc Watson.
In his easygoing way, he continued reminiscing about the previous paths he’s taken.
“I graduated from college with a business and computer science degree in 1981,” Talley said. “Afterwards, worked as a computer program analyst for thirteen years. It was enjoyable to come up with a program that could make somebody else’s job easier. But it came to where I wasn’t making the world a better place. Wondered what else I could do but couldn’t come up with a good answer. So, in 1994 I quit and figured I’d move to Asheville and just figure it out. Then I decided to move to nearby Black Mountain in 1995. ”
While contemplating what then prompted him to settle here, he touched on the inner aspect of his journey by noting the special joy of finding yourself embraced by mountains on all sides. This joyful feeling is further enhanced by traditional mountain music and small-town friendly people.
Moreover, about ten years ago he became involved with the live musical scene at the White Horse Tavern and was eventually hired to facilitate their web sites among other duties, a role which lately became diminished.
Segue now to the Center, a new venture and a focus on a deeper inner experience as well as the practical aspects of maintaining a non-profit enterprise.
“Prior to my hiring,” he said, “I would hike the trails, go down to the river and the meditation site. About a year and a half ago, I volunteered, as I’ve done many times in my life, as a greeter filling folks in on the background and our unique offerings. The administrative director’s position came about this past December where, among other things, I raise funds by booking intimate concerts up in the prayer dome, run the book store, and see to renting out the lodge.”
From this outer perspective, Talley began to zero in on the spiritual benefits that draw people here from far and wide.
“We’re not connected to any particular faith tradition. We’ve created a place for folks to pray or meditate and connect with the divine. Whether that’s out in nature as they walk the nature trails or the divine that they find within themselves. This is why we exist. We can’t have any theology about who God is or which church is right. We don’t get into any of that. Whatever in folk’s lives have been missing, they can find it by being quiet. Or listening to peaceful music.”
He went on to say, some visitors have a background in a particular faith, some are Buddhists, and some are atheists, agnostics or have no religious belief. Some come seeking psychic or physical healing they feel may take place in this special environment.
Getting deeper still, Talley confided that he started out as a Southern Baptist, presently worships at the Episcopal Church in Black Mountain, and has been following the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth all of his life.
But rest assured there will be no teaching or “donning of religious robes ” in order for the Center to remain open, available and viable to one and all.