You know that old service station on Coast Highway? The one of ‘40s era maritime design? Our son would take his BMW 1600 there to be repaired. It needed more work than he could afford so the relationship ended badly. The mechanic, wary of quick fixes, offered to return his money if he would stay away.
One Sunday, we spotted a sidewalk wedding as we were driving by. It was long ago, but the kids still remember it. They never imagined you could marry on a sidewalk, your entourage a growing circle of passers-by. It was more fun than Disneyland. A wedding is such a beautiful thing that even the simplest is memorable. And what has more potential for meaning than a marriage?
Laguna is a marriage destination. Tiny St. Francis by the Sea, a jewel box of a chapel, once specialized in church marriages for the divorced.
Lovers marry on our beaches, at our parks, and in our churches. They marry in our front yards, back yards, and our hotels. The beauty of our town attracts them, but their love stays with us. We’re better for all that.
Marriage is a covenant built on love. The institution is a bit battered these days, but I’m not going to talk about that. Except to say we should all work to make it better. Just this morning the Beautiful Wife gave me a few tips on how I could do that. After all these years—still learning. But I’m optimistic; I might even get a column topic out of it. When we do our best to keep covenants, we create meaning.
I’ve been reading Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ book, “The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning.” Problem is, when I think deep I fall asleep, so it’s slow. But here’s a nugget. The creation of our world has both scientific (the Big Bang theory), and religious (the account in Genesis) explanations. Humankind has wondered which one is right. I’ve never understood the heated debate between the two sides—it seems a question best answered by working together.
So, I was attracted to Rabbi Sacks’ book, especially the subtitle phrase, “. . . the Search for Meaning.” That’s our goal, you know, finding meaning.
Per Rabbi Sacks, meaning comes from keeping our most sacred promises. Which brings us back to covenants. A covenant binds you to do something—often involving moral self-restraint—for a future benefit. With all our modernity, we still have that age-old challenge: self-restraint. It’s part of life and key to true happiness. It’s also vital to our democracy. Without the self-restraint of citizens, you couldn’t hire enough policemen to protect life and property.
Rabbi Sacks explains how covenants bring order—the opposite of disorder or chaos—to the world. He reasons that the observance of covenants is a necessary condition for the survival of life, as we know it. In the religious sense, covenants are deals you make with God. The Biblical Abraham famously made one that spawned three great religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that have survived millennia. Can you think of another contract with such staying power? If you’re of those faiths, aren’t you part of Abraham’s covenant and its promises?
You don’t have to be religious. Marriage is a covenant with those you love. A personal commitment to respect and honor others is a covenant with humankind. Covenants bless us all. Covenants create meaning.
Skip fell in love with Laguna on a 50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.” Email: [email protected]
Places to worship (all on Sunday, unless noted):
Baha’i’s of Laguna Beach—contact [email protected] for events and meetings.
Chabad Jewish Center, 30804 S. Coast Hwy, Fri. 6 p.m., Sat. 10:30 a.m., Sun. 8 a.m.
Church by the Sea, 468 Legion St., 9 & 10:45 a.m.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), 682 Park Ave., 10 a.m.
First Church of Christ, Scientist, 635 High Dr., 10 a.m.
ISKCON (Hare Krishna), 285 Legion St., 5 p.m., with 6:45 feast.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, 20912 Laguna Canyon Rd., 1:00 p.m.
Laguna Beach Net-Works, 286 St. Ann’s Dr., 10 a.m.
Laguna Presbyterian, 415 Forest Ave., 8:30 & 10 a.m.
Neighborhood Congregational Church (UCC), 340 St. Ann’s Drive, 10 a.m.
United Methodist Church, 21632 Wesley, 10 a.m.
St. Catherine of Siena (Catholic), 1042 Temple Terrace, 7:30, 9, 11, 1:30 p.m. (Spanish), 5:30 p.m. There are 8 a.m. masses on other days and Saturday 5:30 p.m. vigils.
St. Francis by the Sea (American Catholic), 430 Park, 9:30 a.m.
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 428 Park Ave., 8 & 10:30 a.m.
Unitarian Universalist, 429 Cypress St., 10:30 a.m.