Opinion: Finding Meaning

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A Child’s Prayer

A reptile show was the highlight of a child’s birthday party at a local park last Saturday. The kids loved it, but after the show, when the birthday cake was being enjoyed, the reptile lady discovered a rare lizard missing. The alarm was raised and soon several dozen children were searching the bushes for the reptile. Except one child.

Later, the Beautiful Wife and I happened by on a sunset stroll and saw the anxious reptile lady and a helpful neighbor still searching. We joined in for a bit but it seemed better to return the next day when the warm sun might draw the lizard out. It became a good news story with two happy endings. The first concerned the lizard, who was later found hidden in a corner of the cage. The reptile lady had been stressed, so a joyful discovery for her.
The other good outcome concerned the child who hadn’t joined the search. When questioned by a parent, the child explained that she (or he, I didn’t get that detail) had slipped away to a quiet corner and was praying for the reptile. The faith of a child. The story made me want to meet the parents.

I mention the child’s prayer because Thursday, May 5, is National Day of Prayer. Laguna’s Interfaith Council has traditionally observed this with a breakfast hosted by Mission Hospital. This year, to attract more youth, the service will be held at 4 p.m., after school, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 428 Park Ave., just down from the high school. The theme is “The World Is Our Family” and the program will feature local youth. All are invited.

The practice of community prayer is as old as our nation, first recorded in 1768 by Colonial cities protesting British rule. We know how that turned out. People tend to forget about prayer when the good times are rolling but remember it in times of need. Reminds me of the cowboy who was bucked off his horse and slid down a high cliff to certain death. He prayed with uncommon vigor for the good Lord’s help, promising to give up a menu of bad habits. Just then his belt providently caught on a root and he saw an escape. “Never mind Lord,” he called out, “I took care of it myself. Hah.

Hymns are a form of prayer and it’s a tradition to close the National Day of Prayer service by singing, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” The song was first sung at a youth gathering in the Sierra mountains and spread around the world. It closes with the vow, “And let it begin with me.” We’ll sing it again this year.

I’ve been thinking about that child, who rather than rush off to search first stopped to pray. Can you think of anything in your life might have turned out better by following the example of that child? Brings to mind the promise, “A child shall lead them.” 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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