Opinion: Finding Meaning

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A Season for Healing

The Beautiful Wife and I have been in little Midway, Utah, an alpine valley high in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. Midway is a Lake Wobegon kind of place where the women are strong, the kids all above average, and the men drive pick-up trucks with dogs in the back. The BW’s Swiss ancestors settled here in the 1860s. The family home is a farmhouse Victorian, its thick rock walls stuffed with memories. Here, the wisdom of past generations seems close.

The days were warm and sunny when we came but the nighttime temperature is now dropping. In response, the maples are glowing red in the mountains, the oaks a rusty orange, the quaking aspens a luminescent yellow, all contrasted by dark green firs. It’s a beautiful time. The geese are starting to migrate, rehearsing their V-formations, honking encouragement. There is a timeless harmony in this change of season that comforts. 

We’re a bit out of touch with the news; much of it is bad—too much disharmony. Our daughter, a firefighter, has been deployed to the Oregon fires so we know of the sadness there. Between the pandemic, the protests, and the fires, it’s been an unsettling year. In my angst, I turned to a famous poem by W B. Yeats, written a century ago just after WWI, called “The Second Coming.”

Yeats tells of a world falling apart. He refers to a falcon, how in its wandering gyre the call of the falconer is lost. “Things fall apart,” Yates writes, “the center cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” The poem tells of innocence lost, where “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Sounds a bit too much like 2020, doesn’t it?

We’ve not been to church meetings for six months now. We hold a service each Sunday, observing our worship rituals. Our hymns are an odd duet; the BW sings beautifully, I’m tone-deaf (in my defense, Yates was also). We pray and share a message. It’s been a special experience, though we look forward to being in church again.

I awoke this morning with a new thought, that the healing of our crumbling world, the affliction Yates warned of, could begin in our churches. We’ve tried to solve this with science alone—the world of faith, with access to the powers of heaven, has been shut down. Shouldn’t we also seek healing from the master healer? Couldn’t Laguna’s faithful turn to our preachers and pastors, mediators with the good Lord? Perhaps they’ll call for a day of prayer and fasting. It would be a beginning.

I hear the BW moving about upstairs, packing her bags. It’s time to return home, to Laguna. I look forward to the smell of the ocean, greeting neighbors, and returning to Laguna’s long-empty churches. They’re places of healing, something we need. There’s meaning in that.

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]

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