El Carmelo Cemetery, Pacific Grove, California


Dawn, Sunday morning, as I rode my bike along the Monterey coast, three thoughts looped through my head: the details of a project I’m working on, the observation of how thoughts drop in and spin around, and George Harrison singing My Sweet Lord. I’d heard the song the day before, and it was still having its way with me. The ride led into the hills to the winding roads of the old El Carmelo Cemetery. My thoughts shifted to the current news cycle, followed by –– why am I ruminating over this now?

I glided past white-marble mausoleum walls with a thousand small doors. The great lawn of graves stretched out before me. A picture enveloped my mind, layers of thought like a cake. It felt like a collective message from the ones surrounding me, but I couldn’t get to the last layer, the one that opened to the blue sky. 

I pulled over and closed my eyes to give it space, urged it to coalesce, and tried to grab words to describe the ineffable. The essence of the moment became a feeling, like a dream or a trance. I opened my eyes. The bright morning sun cast long shadows through the trees and gravestones, dew sparkled like glitter, and a young buck nibbled grass in the warm rays.