I have been on this Earth for nearly a half-century. I have always thought, if I died tomorrow, that I’d be OK with it, that I’d lived a full life and seen and experienced more than the average person.
And then I witnessed a sunset in Lake Tahoe on Father’s Day, and it was a reaffirmation of life. To the point that I wondered: What else could be out there that I’ve missed and didn’t know?
Now, let me first say, there is no possible way that words – no matter the writer – can ever truly capture the scintillating luminescence of that evening. Indescribable, really. If you have ever experienced transcendence wrapped in ethereal, this was that evening.
There were ever-bustling kids, their words usually flowing like an overburdened river, who stood on the edge of a pier, mouths agape in unflinching awe. A young couple lost in one another’s gazes took several inspirational minutes to look away from each other and etch the moment in their relationship. A chocolate-colored Chesapeake Bay retriever, an endless bundle of energy, sprinted to the edge of the dock and halted in acquiescence, his emerald eyes reflecting the raw incandescence of the multilayered vista.
Everyone present, it seemed, was enfolded in a unifying bond as a tidal wave of reverence careened through our pores. Girls wanted to dance, boys wanted to sing and grown men wanted to cry, the moment was that raw.
The weird thing was, the evening started out disappointingly. A cerulean sky turned ominous as dark, foreboding clouds marched in over the thrusting peaks of the Sierra.
But just as the steel-gray sky darkened and the night announced itself, it was as if – this is the only way I can describe it – a great force turned on an overhead lamp in the sky that carried back the clock two hours. The sudden proliferation of light filtered through clouds that acted like linen lingerie, and everything was infused with an otherworldly glow, as if a great, uncontrollable fire was raging over the edge of the horizon.
Waves lapped at the shore of the lake, but their sounds were drowned out by silent serenity. Photographic pixels can relay neither the message nor the feeling because the essence of 720 degrees of surreality could never be truly re-created.
It was as if you were standing inside a painting by Monet, but the pastels kept changing moment by moment as the light reflected off different parts of the canvas. I felt like the paint on the tip of the brush, tinged by genius and virtuosity.
There are not many times in life where you experience a higher being in your presence, tapping you on the shoulder and murmuring, “Believe.”
In wonderment, this was how that felt. An outcropping of trees glistened on a finger of land that stuck out in the lake, the green hues of the leaves bathed in a shimmering glow. A monolith of granite stood in the background like a protective sentinel, reflecting the pink sky off its meaty frame. Light glinted off the water like a million teardrops, with sky and water coming together like a stitched blanket. And the sky eased from spectacular to transformative, depending on how the shadows moved across the sun.
I felt like I was sitting inside the tubes of a kaleidoscope, and somebody just kept turning.
I once knew an artist in Seattle. She was riding her bike one day and got hit by a car in a crosswalk. She went to the ground, and in her unconscious state she told me she saw the most inviting, peaceful and powerful light she had ever experienced.
She never said the words, but I suspect that she was hinting that heaven was calling her. She lived, and said that she tries to recapture that same light in every piece she paints. I wish she were on that dock that night, because I’m pretty certain it is the same light she saw that fateful day, beckoning.
There was another man on the dock that night, standing on the opposite side. He was, like me, astonished. As the evening faded and the light orchestra came to a close, he sidled past me and offered three words.
“God did good,” he said, and walked away.