Finding Meaning

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By Skip Hellewell
By Skip Hellewell

There’s a new acronym—SBNR.  As in ‘spiritual but not religious.’  A lot of people frequent this category.  Pollsters say 20-25 percent describe themselves as SBNR.  They’re on a spiritual quest.  Aren’t we all?  Folks may take a break as life demands, but all seem to have a spiritual homing instinct.  It’s central to our search for meaning.  Have you noticed how some are better at this?  Reason tells us there are best practices for developing spirituality, the focus of this column.

Spiritual growth can come from reading good books, praying, meditating, the singing of hymns and serving others.  It arises from great music, church going, a nature walk or just counting our blessings.  The beautiful wife enjoys keeping a gratitude journal.  The last column noted the visit of Urban Voices, a choir drawn from LA’s skid row.  Both singer and listener were edified.

Many find spirituality in nature, a Laguna asset. The surfer watching the rising of the sun fathoms this.  We are graced with miles of coastline dotted with beautiful bays.  Thanks to the vision of Jim Dilley, we have 23,000 acres of preserved greenbelt wilderness, an acre for each of us.  To top this, we have our art colony tradition.  This week I visited the art museum’s centennial exhibit of early California impressionism and was touched by work done a century ago. A friend told of being moved by this year’s pageant.  Laguna is a blessed place.

San Gorgonio is Southern California’s highest mountain at 11,503 feet.  I first climbed it years ago with a dear friend now gone.  Our goal was to sleep at the peak.  The climb was so exhausting that at the top, with night falling, I pulled out my sleeping bag and simply fell to the ground.  I awoke sometime after midnight, maybe from the surprising brightness of the stars at that elevation.  The sky was so clear it seemed you could see to the beginning of time.  I lay there and stared into the heavens, wondering.  A shooting star briefly lit the night.  It was an unforgettable spiritual experience.

Ever held a newborn baby in your hands? Especially one of your own doing? Babies bring something with them. Holding one is a profound experience. The English poet Wordsworth spoke of our arrival to this world, “. . . trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home.”  The spirituality of our planet grows with each birth, though decreased by each death. It’s an observation that countries with falling birth rates have related declining religiosity.  And pastors sometimes note how babies drive parents to church.  They can drive them crazy too, but we’re not going to talk about that.

Our spiritual journey can be done alone, or in a group, as a congregation.  I’m a bit of a loner, but find groups a necessary aid.  Last week I visited Calvary Chapel Seaside.  A reader noted their absence on our list of Laguna churches, so I worshipped with them in their Lang Park meeting place.  Thanks to the park, they enjoy the most scenic grounds.  I met these good people, sang with them and heard Pastor Kurt Schonheinz preach.  Together, we grew spiritually.  It’s all part of finding meaning in Laguna.

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.

Calvary Chapel Seaside, 21540 Wesley Drive (Lang Park Community Center), 10:30 a.m.

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.

Salt Chrch, 8681 N. Coast Hwy, 10:00 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., 9:30 a.m. (summer schedule)

Unitarian Universalist, 429 Cypress St., 10:30 a.m.


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