The SoCal weather was stereotypically beautiful, although the smog inland was enough to hide the mountains. I was staying by the ocean in San Pedro to bless a really wonderful marriage. No good deed going unpunished, the groom found some embarrassingly young pictures of me to include in the slide show at the reception.
It was a rich moment when the couple knelt in the very spot where I was ordained 22 years ago, and another to celebrate Holy Communion at the altar where I'd first carried out that priestly ministry.
I had a chance to drive around L.A. I walked across the USC campus. It extends out to the Harbor Freeway now, with the new Galen Center for sports and arts. Prayed for Pat Haden as he takes over as AD, with a big reform mission in front of him. Had lunch at the Pantry Cafe where my dad was a waiter - there were lines out both doors waiting for tables or counter stools. The place was packed with every kind of Angeleno. I got a counter seat and gabbed with a guy from Reever-side who said he comes in to eat there every two weeks.
I visited my parents', brother's and godfather's graves at Forest Lawn, Glendale. Midlife musings went into high gear. It had been so easy driving around my massive but familiar hometown - there were plenty of changes but on the whole there was a sense of "permanence" in streets and landmarks. Yet the acres and acres of graves represented the richness and brevity of life upon life, generation upon generation. Saw an ant trail on the edge of the grass and saw the same complexity, intensity and anonymity. Either the atheists are right and we are just one more trivial product of the elements or faith is right and there is an incredible story seen only by God.
Went by the house in which I grew up. Man, it looks tiny. But whoever has it now has done a wonderful job landscaping. It is surrounded with sword plants, thick bushes, azaleas and assorted vines on the fences. Add in the new roof tile, and it looks like a place one might stay on a Mexican or Central American getaway. I really liked the look.
Flying back into Sioux Falls yesterday, I was dazzled by how lushly green the Northern Plains appear this late in July. There's been plenty of rain and humid heat. It wilts the people but the crops and gardens love it.