The dark clouds cast an ominous feeling, hovering just at the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, which had gone gray in the shadows.
I was eight, and my family and I stood in the church parking lot, along with more of the church. Josh and Jared--boys from the junior-high contingent--pranced back and forth among the ruts in the gravelly dirt. One of them had smeared mud on his tongue, obviously for the sake of getting an "Eww, gross" from the pack of little girls.
Distractions notwithstanding, I kept turning my eyes to the top of a nearby peak. A small part in the clouds had formed there, and a bright ray of sunlight made a track through the darkness. I remember feeling that if I walked up that trail of light through the doorway in the clouds, I would find God there.
That memory comes back to me now and again, perhaps once every couple of years, whenever I catch one of those narrow, highly contrasted sunbreaks. They look--damn science!--like portals into heaven.
I thought of it last night, standing out on the pier at Boulevard Park. The sky and water had turned as gray, and almost as smooth, as steel; out across the bay, the sun came through in a couple of spots.
It's just a little girl's imagination. But I still think of the experience of going to heaven as walking up the light, through the doorway in the clouds. Straight to God.
Which proves, probably, that I have either read too much Reader's Digest or that a part of me will never quite grow up. Both, I hope.