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Alone no longer

by davesandel on March 28th, 2021

Saturday, March 27, 2021 (today’s lectionary)

Alone no longer

Alone for too many days in West Texas, I am not sure what I will dream at night. Last night I spent stretched out on a Gander Mountain pad, under a sleeping bag in the back of our Prius, looking through the hatchback window hoping to see thousands of stars in the famous dark sky of Marfa, Texas. Instead I was nearly blinded by the waxing moon. Kind of covering my eyes with a bandana, I fell asleep slowly and my dreams began carrying me away.

“You know nothing!” Caiaphas was high priest that year. “It is better for us that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” From that day on they began to kill him.

I’d planned to set up my tent, but the rocks were endless and just too darn big. Anyway by dawn the temperature had dropped to 28 degrees. I woke up about 2:30 to answer the call of nature and remembered that I’d set the child locks on the back doors. God gave me grace to wriggle into the front seat and get outside. All that bending in the cold, cramping, stretching, I had trouble falling asleep afterward.

They looked for Jesus and said to one another, “What do you think? Will he come to the feast?”

I was up at 6:30 and drove 45 minutes west of town to see the famous Marfa Prada art display at sunrise. I was alone. It was wonderful. I stood on the empty railroad tracks and imagined being in a comfortable Amtrak sleeper train from San Antonio to El Paso, waiting in bed for my call to breakfast. The sun rose above the ancient, everlasting mountains. The temperature was up to 31 degrees.

Shouting, we shall mount the heights of Zion, we shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings, to the grain, the wine, and the oil, to the sheep and the oxen. The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards its flock.

I picked up two wonderful breakfast tacos from a Stripes gas station before I left Marfa. The place was packed at 6:40 in the morning. I watched my new server friend roll out the tortillas, grill them, fill them with bacon and eggs, and all for $3. A border patrol agent filled up his sack with tacos too. On the way west I saw a border patrol pickup (brand new of course) parked in the grass beside the road. Soon after I passed a “Tethered Aerostat Radar System,” authorized to be used only by, you guessed it, the “US Customs and Border Protection” police. I felt intimidated, empathetic to non-whites, and sad.

I will take the children of Israel from among the nations and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land. I will make them one nation. Never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms.

My friend Shannon sent me off on an afternoon journey to Sonora, Texas to meet his buddy Casey. They’ve been friends since church camp and high school – in other words, forever. Casey is an Episcopal priest. I asked him, “How do you manage the political jockeying in this very conservative part of Texas?” He said he spends a lot of energy praying to find words that point back to the “authenticity of the Word.” Sometimes the Word points us to the left, sometimes it points us to the right. It’s our job to let the Bible do its work and hold less tightly to our points of view.

Sweet.

In our couple of hours together I felt Casey’s love for God, his love for his wife, his congregation and for Shannon, and for me. My loneliness disappeared, and his encouragement, generosity and humility humbled me. His bishop will be paying the congregation its annual visit on Sunday. I am sure the bishop will feel God’s love there too, on Palm Sunday, on that sunny Sunday morning in Sonora.

(Ezekiel 37, Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 18, John 11)

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