June 2, 2006

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Crediting Las Vegas for what is good

For years, anytime anyone mentioned Las Vegas, my husband, Paul, or I would say, “That’s the last place we would ever go.”

Last autumn, we changed our minds because our daughter, Diane, and her fiancé, Al, took us there as a gift. We mainly accepted for an opportunity to visit a cousin my husband had not seen since childhood.

We “did not look a gift horse in the mouth”—a doubly appropriate comment since Diane’s fiancé raises horses and because we attended a rodeo. Actually, it was a professional bull-riding competition. I feared animal cruelty, but the only ones suffering were men who were thrown while trying to stay on the bulls.

Another show was breathtaking in a gentler way. I was moved to tears by a Celine Dion performance. However, happy tears came other times, too: when our youngest daughter, Lisa, and friend, Scott, from Nashville, Tenn., joined us as a surprise; when viewing and learning about Siegfried and Roy’s rare white tigers; and when seeing the beautiful “dancing waters” at the Bellagio, especially when hearing “Con Te Tartio” (“Time to Say Goodbye”) sung by Andrea Bocelli.

One of many other happy times was celebrating at the Vegas Hofbrauhaus Oktoberfest (a replica of Munich’s version) with our family and my brother, Stan, a widower from South Dakota and his friend, Marie.

Getting around by cab, monorail, the shuttle at the Fairfield Grand Desert Resort and on foot was always convenient, but we rented a car for a happy and blessed visit with Paul’s cousin, John, and his wife, Marcia, in Boulder City, Nev.—and to tour the Hoover Dam.

Las Vegas is often called “sin city,” but we ignored its sleazy side. However, one must walk through casinos to get to restaurants and shows, so noise, cigarette smoke and lights ambushed my senses.

Gambling, of course, is the “name of the Vegas game,” but gambling within limits can be fun, as seen at many Church functions. (More on gambling in a later column.)

Speaking of church, did you know that there are more than 30 times more churches in Las Vegas than casinos? The Las Vegas “Yellow Pages” proved this.

Because of the Vegas Strip glitz and gloss and intriguing architecture, I often felt I was in a fantasyland, especially when viewing “The Fremont Street Experience”—a high-tech overhead light show—or seeing Las Vegas at night from the rotating restaurant at the top of the Stratosphere.

However, Paul and I were well-grounded in reality and spirituality when attending early Mass at the beautiful Guardian Angel Cathedral near “The Strip.” The pastor’s homily was based on a story in The Las Vegas Sun. I will share some of that in the following column.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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