Opinion: Finding Meaning

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Snow Softly Falling

The darkness of night is yielding to the light of a new day in Midway, Utah, the mountain village settled by the Beautiful Wife’s Swiss ancestors. Upstairs, the BW sweetly slumbers. Outside, snow is softly falling, turning our world white. I’m in the 130-year-old parlor, at my writing table, reflecting on this unusual year.

We had a good Halloween in Laguna, less trick-or-treaters than normal, but still plenty. Per custom, we offer them a choice of an apple or candy. Their choices reveal the values of their families. The year has likewise turned me towards the values of family. Let me explain.

One result of COVID-19 was a pause in professional sports. We like our sports teams because of the skill of the players, but also because of the black-and-white certainty lacking in other spheres of life: each game has a clear winner. But there’s another transaction in sports. The price of entertainment is exposure to that industry’s culture, especially the commercials—too many (now 12 to 14 minutes each hour) and too in-your-face. How often are you spiritually uplifted by a TV commercial?

The shutdown of sports became a gift of time and I turned to spiritual music at day’s end. My tastes vary from the cowboy classic, “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” to the Catholic “Ave Maria,” a memory of times past in Central America. Another favorite is the Tabernacle Choir’s “Abide with Me; ‘Tis Eventide,” a hymn to the Lord inspired by the Civil War. Consider the lyrics, “Abide with me, ‘tis eventide, and lone will be the night if I cannot commune with Thee, nor find in Thee my light. The darkness of the world, I fear, would in my home abide; Oh, Savior, stay this night with me, Behold, ‘tis eventide.”

As you likely have experienced, finishing one’s day by meditating to spiritual music versus watching a professional sports event (and the pounding commercials) leaves a lingering influence. I think I’ll always watch the World Series, the Super Bowl, and March Madness. But hopefully I’ll give more time to my evening devotionals.

Outside, the snow is still softly falling. The red roses of summer have turned brown at the arbor by the gate, but the gathering snow is turning them a pristine white. An old-timer once told of a long-ago visit to this parlor. He was in the third grade; his class had come to each lay a rose on the coffin of a child of this family, a classmate who had died of scarlet fever. He remembered the parlor as an extension of heaven.

The BW’s family has lived in this home for over a century; six generations have felt its influence. When our grandchildren visit they play a game of leaving a trail of clues about the house for their cousins to follow when they visit. Their ancestors left clues also. Though subtler, they’re also a guide to light from the darkness of night. 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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