Scene In Passing: Polishing the gem a reason to give thanks

The Very Reverend Jeff Paul, my rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, isn’t always very reverent.

But he was, after a fashion, as he opened the recent Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting with a prayer giving thanks. He signaled every one present to give up thanks periodically after he intoned the many things for which we all should be grateful. Waving his magic musculature, he prompted everyone to cough up continual thank yous like so many hosannas.

Seven hours later Supervisor Karen Abowd shared news with me, after the board meeting ended, that she had won tickets to Burning Man. She expressed excitement at the chance to go there, see art galore, soak up some wild vibes and check out what I presume will be Blake’s world in a grain of sand. Or a few such wild worlds and many more grains of grit; the temptation to tease her about all that sand couldn’t be resisted.

Between Father Jeff’s prayer and Abowd’s report on her future art trip, the supervisor had presided over the board in its capacity as Redevelopment Authority. She also had voted as an authority and a governing board member in favor of a new downtown plaza where West 3rd Street now exists, as well as on the final step in issuing bonds for a makeover of downtown Carson Street. Both proposals cleared those hurdles handily.

This all got me thinking and sent me to my library that night. There I found my copy of New Mexican Morris Eaves’ book, “William Blake’s Theory of Art.” In it, Eaves quotes the Canadian literary critic, Northrop Frye, on Blake’s work as artist and poet.

“In breaking with all form of social organization,” Frye wrote, “Blake is merely following the logic of art itself, whose myths and visions are at once the cause and the clarified form of social developments.

“Every society is the embodiment of myth,” Frye continued, “and as the artist is the shaper of myth, there is a sense in which he holds in his hand the thunderbolts that destroy one society and create another.”

Every city is a society, a mythmaker and a collective artist whose line and palette provide those in it constant chances to sketch the outlines and fill in the color of our daily lives. Burning Man builds, tears down and rebuilds an art and festival community every year. Carson City builds and rebuilds this community every day.

So whether you wanted what’s coming downtown or not is becoming immaterial. The only constant in life or community is change, which is coming. The task becomes making Nevada’s capital a greater jewel in the beautiful setting the creation provides around us along these foothills of the Sierra Nevada Carson Spur just miles from Lake Tahoe. We can polish this gem.

I don’t know about you, but for me and mine this place is more than enough to make us give thanks every day while striving to make it even better.

We don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving Day, or for Father Jeff’s signal to express such gratitude either in church or as a government board meeting begins.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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