As Good a Place as Any
Every Christmas we trek to be with our families to Arizona, the least favorite of any of the places I have lived. Yet, this week there we were, checking out our “final resting place,” walking through Mountain View, “Mesa’s Best Cemetery.” “As good a place as any to be forgotten,” I pondered glumly.
On a now long ago Christmas visit shortly after we married, Alfredo insisted we visit this cemetery where his grandparents and other relatives are buried and he reserved a plot for the two of us. At $30 a month, he soon paid it off. It was a morbid, depressing adventure, but on the other hand I was touched. “I guess he’s taking this marriage bit seriously—now we’ll really be together forever.”
Inevitably visiting fields of graves leads to wondering where all these people are now, and where we will be when it’s time for our bodies to take up residence there. Is there nothingness, or a fantastic afterlife?
It seems to me that Rabbi Howard Jaffe takes a sensible view. “We really do not know, but if there is a life after this one, and a reward for what we do, then surely it will be dependent upon the kind of life we have lived – therefore, let us strive to follow God’s path for us as closely and as enthusiastically as possible, for then we will surely know all manner of rewards, especially the one of seeing a world that is a better place for our efforts.”
Even if there is no heaven or paradise, a friend suggested, our afterlife is living on in the memory of others.
Laguna Beach is now and has been a city of memorable people, who give of themselves toward the greater good. We met some of them recently at the Village Laguna annual holiday potluck, where they were receiving donations and explaining the roles their organizations play in making our community function humanely and with an environmental conscience—the Food Pantry, La Playa Center and Day Workers Center, Laguna Canyon Foundation, the Community Clinic, Friendship Shelter, Laguna Bluebelt, South Laguna Community Garden Park…and there are so many more groups and individuals contributing leadership, time and talent to fill community needs and aspirations.
On this visit to Arizona, driving through what had been middle class neighborhoods, we noticed evidence of declining quality of life. It was clear that many families were struggling. The need for uplifting lives and creating supportive environments in these “average American communities” is probably multiplied throughout our country as the election results indicate.
Laguna is a better place than most to see the results of efforts toward making a better world, and we are better equipped than most to do it. Now there’s a whole year before us to follow our chosen path of inspired good deeds, whose ripples flow outward and are never to be forgotten.
Landscape architect Ann Christoph is a former council member.