Finding Meaning


Overwhelming Meaning

By Skip Hellewell

I did the Palm Sunday marathon, scurrying between Laguna churches as they began their Easter Week. Thanks to a Laguna service starting every half-hour from 7:30 a.m. forward, I got to sample six churches, though not able to enjoy the whole service. It was an uplifting morning—lacking only the ability to visit all of Laguna’s churches. The marathon led to a chat with the Beautiful Wife about Easter memories.

Many moons ago, as a young man, I observed the Good Friday procession in Guatemala City. The 14 Stations of the Cross were depicted by carved figures on ornate wooden floats. The larger floats were carried by, it seemed, a hundred men dressed in purple robes. Priests accompanied the floats swinging incense pots, thuribles, wafting the fragrance of Frankincense and Myrrh. We were on an east-west street and the setting sun shone down the street, lengthening shadows and bathing all in golden tones. It left an indelible memory of my first Semana Santa (Holy Week).

Yesterday was Maundy Thursday, memorial to the Last Supper. In that ‘upper room,’ the Savior introduced the washing of feet, symbolic of service given to the least. He gave a new commandment to those who would be His disciples, of loving one another as He had loved them. He next introduced the Holy Spirit, explaining its mission as comforter, teacher and guide. He also blessed his disciples with the promise of His peace, an unending gift to those who know God. Then they sang a hymn, Judas having left, and went into the night towards the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, and all that transpired there.

Today, Christians observe Good Friday, symbolized by the cross. It’s also the start of Passover, the day of the first Seder dinner. These are days of such overwhelming meaning that words fail. I defer to our remarkable pastors, priests, and preachers to explain it in their sermons.

This is the second year of “Finding Meaning.” In the beginning, one of the goals was to call attention to Laguna’s churches. I thought them an underappreciated asset, deserving more credit for their contribution to our town. They also seemed under-used: too many empty seats. Some had struggled, but in the last year there is new energy and attendance seems to be growing. When I attended tiny St. Francis by the Sea, a jewel box of a chapel, it was standing room only.  At Laguna Beach Presbyterian, and also at Little Church by the Sea, I had to search for a seat. Our churches bless those who take part, and word seems to be getting around.

This Sunday afternoon, following morning worship, the BW and I will gather with family—three generations with children and grandchildren. There will be an Easter egg hunt, and an egg roll. Last year my egg won— a random outcome taken as a great honor. Afterwards, like many families, we’ll gather around for a traditional Easter dinner. In life, we often search to find meaning. At Easter, it seems to engulf us like a rising tide. The BW and I wish you a wondrous Easter.


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. 7 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, 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, 9:30 & 11 a.m. (Easter Sunday only)

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., 8:00 & 10:30 a.m.

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


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