Opinion: Finding Meaning

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A Spiritual Lent

By Skip Hellewell

Americans are a hard-working people, skilled at multi-tasking. We set ambitious goals, and make lists of things to do. We’re often in a hurry chasing our fast-paced world. We hustle through our days, work long hours, get things done, and take care of business. Have you been in this mode, going faster and faster, ever so proud of your bursting calendar, pleased with your busy-ness?

Nature, on the other hand, does not hurry. We see this in our Laguna metronome— the steady rhythm of breaking waves. Or in the quiet moment as we watch the sunset, hoping to see that elusive green flash. Or in the time it takes to stroll our favorite beach as we unwind. We need this change of pace. Hurrying gets things done, but slowing down reconnects us with our spiritual selves.

It is, after all we do, the spiritual dimension that gives meaning to our lives. Spirituality is innate, an endowment common to all. The challenge is to nurture this gift to a transforming fullness. The means of doing this are subtle; the process has its own natural pace. An important benefit of religion is to facilitate this path of spiritual maturation. And this brings us to Lent.

We are in the season of Lent, a time of spiritual preparation for Easter. Lent began on Ash Wednesday and lasts 40 days, not counting Sundays, taking us to Easter Sunday. Notable events include Palm Sunday, which precedes Holy Week, and Good Friday.

The observance of Lent and Holy Week varies around the world. I spent a few years in Central America as a young man. That was long ago but I have a clear memory of the devout in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica celebrating Holy Week with solemn processions in the streets accompanied by priests with fragrant incense pots of frankincense and myrrh.

I worked in a ladies shoe store during college. Spring break aligned with Easter Week then and it would be a crazy busy time as mothers, daughters in tow, shopped for spring outfits. Once they had found that right dress, they needed new shoes. It was a nice tradition; another way of making Easter special.

The days of Lent are a time for penance, the pondering of scripture, and of fasting and prayer. Believers give something up for Lent, perhaps a guilty pleasure, and donate what is saved to charity. Performing service for others is also a Lenten tradition. In all this the paths to spiritual fullness are revealed.

Following Lent, there isn’t a better day than Easter Sunday to attend church in Laguna for it is the highlight religious service of the year. After church, our family will gather to enjoy the day together. There is an Easter egg hunt in the backyard, our traditional dinner, and then a sharing of the beliefs that enable our spiritual journey. The beautiful wife and I wish you a most blessed Lenten season. There is 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]

 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. 6 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., 8:30 & 10 a.m.

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, Sunday 7:30, 9, 11, 1:30 p.m. (Spanish).  Saturday: 4 pm Reconciliation, 5:30 Mass.

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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