Updated: Aug 2, 2021
“ The temple lobby was dark as I stepped out of the car, but when I pulled the front door, it opened. I took off my sneakers, and entered the main temple, but the altar doors were closed and the room was empty. I had come too late. "
At the end of the first long day of travel to a photo shoot location, I usually go straight to bed after our production meeting, but this night I sped across the bridge from Marin toward Berkeley, to see the local Krishna temple. New to this world, I already felt like a passenger being taken somewhere beautiful and necessary. The temple lobby was dark as I stepped out of the car, but when I pulled the front door, it opened. I took off my sneakers, and entered the main temple, but the altar doors were closed and the room was empty. I had come too late. Alone, I sat cross-legged on the floor, awkwardly pulling back the prayer beads Om had given me between my thumb and middle finger, chanting 108 times to complete the circle and then back again. I bent, bowed in devotion, then left the room, about to slide back into my sneakers. A woman appeared in the lobby. “Don’t leave, Prabhu, I know the Deities would love to meet you.” I followed her back inside the temple, and with a soft, kind voice, she began to recite its history and some tales of devotees from the Haight-Ashbury of the late 1960s. Then the altar doors opened wide, beautiful, smoky light illuminating three chambers of Deities dressed for slumber. The silence was deafening and comforting. I started crying, and didn’t care to hide it from her. “What’s your name?” she asked. I looked around the room, at the beautiful Deities glowing in a bath of candlelight, and into her eyes. “Mathura,” I said.