Opinion: Finding Meaning

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A Light on the Hill

The Beautiful Wife is the guardian of tradition in our home. After Thanksgiving dinner, it’s our practice to share what we’re most grateful for in the past year. A son-in-law whose mother had lost the ability to mother due to a stroke in his boyhood, recalled other women stepping up to mother him in addition to their own children. The passing years have only burnished the memory of their loving kindness. We were all moved. Thanksgiving was a good start to our favorite time of year, Christmas, the season of light. I put up our well-worn Christmas lights the next day. Saturday evening, I looked up to see a lighted cross glowing on the hill above our community. There must be meaning in that, I thought. 

Likewise, men of old, though without the camels, the BW and I followed the light, curious to know its meaning. It wasn’t easy to find. The cross, it turned out, was thoughtfully situated on the hillside so it was visible from a distance, but not to the immediate neighborhood. You can see it from Coast Highway, but not from nearby streets. We came home disappointed, but determined to continue our search.

Sunday, we went out again, traversing field and mountain as the carol says. It required some hillside hiking through thorny cacti, which the BW wisely left to me. But before the day was done I was seated in the hospitable Borgese home, a long-time Laguna family. Sitting amidst their Christmas decorations, I heard the story about their cross on the hill.

Mr. Borgese told of a vision he had for several years of building a modest version of the Christ the Redeemer monument in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His failure to accomplish this weighed heavily on his heart until, in this year of pandemic, the family had the idea to build a cross on their backyard property. It’s a modest cross, not a lot taller than me, built of materials at hand and sited to not bother neighbors. It’s been up since Easter. I think it not intrusive, we just became aware of it.

The family told of another cross, higher on the hill, built by friends of a young man who had died. Crosses have various meanings, but for the Borgese family it seems a symbol of their faith. Now that I know where to look, it’s wonderful to see their cross glowing at night, a veritable light upon a hill. Taking a clue from the real wise men I thought to leave a gift; the Borgese family seemed happy to have a copy of “Loving Laguna.”

The pandemic has been most difficult for Laguna families; perhaps we can now relax and enjoy the season of light. Christmas lights are coming on around the neighborhood. In this darkest of years, let your light shine. Working together, we can light the world. 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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