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Canyon whispers

by davesandel on April 12th, 2021

Monday, April 12, 2021         (today’s lectionary)

Canyon whispers

The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Jesus’ words to Nicodemus in the dead of night lifted the old Pharisee’s spirit and fed his soul. They feed mine today. Yesterday, before I head off to Illinois again, I read Echoes, the H E Butts Foundation newsletter, and remembered my trip down the mountain into Frio Canyon and the HEB Foundation’s Laity Lodge near Kerrville, Texas.

Like many Christian camps, they closed up last year because of the pandemic. They are opening again this year, but just as in the rest of Texas, a Valentine’s Day ice storm slowed things down. In his fifteen years as senior director of canyon operations, Carlos Navarro had only seen a light dusting of snow, until 2021’s foot of snow and several inches of ice.

The ice was melted when I visited in March. I wasn’t allowed to stay long, since I hadn’t worked through any of their pandemic protocols, but in just an hour I found a couple of new friends and felt the draw into what campers call The Canyon. Rudy in his big hat and high pickup truck told me to turn left and drive on down the river in my Prius. “Just stay on this side of the river markers, and you’ll be fine.”

No one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.

Closed minds, callous indifference to others, and stubborn egotistic self-righteousness fill books about Texan history, American history, my history … and I’ve been reading too much.

Why do the nations rage and the people utter folly? The kings of the earth rise up, and the princes conspire together against the Lord.

But in the Canyon I forgot to be angry and forgot to grieve. I was at home. A teacher at one of the countless programs at the camp said, “Nature is not retaliatory. If I spit on the ground, the ground doesn’t say, ‘Hey, don’t do that!’ It just continues to be a place where things grow.”

Now, Lord, enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness as you stretch forth your hand to heal in the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

Headlines in the Foundation’s newsletter quiet my emotions now, as I remember the sound of my tires rolling across the rocks. “The Canyon is Calling.” “Little Tweaks, Big Impact.” And especially the story about Crystal Tamez, a San Antonio muralist who “preserves history and community on the walls of San Antonio’s West Side.”

After a young man was killed, the community was up in arms, caught in one of the endless wars of retribution that mark racial conflict everywhere. “So we decided to do a mural that was calling for peace.” Crystal was 13 years old then, in 2001. When the mural needed updating last year, she found several 13 year olds (or so) to refresh the mural, called “Peace and Remembrance.”

In 2012 Margaret and I visited the San Antonio missions, and drove by a mural celebrating a century of Hispanic culture. It was painted on the back wall of a Best Mart. We got lucky, nobody was parked in front of the mural at the time. We had just left Mission Espada, where jugs of dust reminded us in four languages of our source.

So beautiful, this music of peace and remembrance, mixed with the music of the Canyon. Lord, make me a place where things grow, make me an instrument of thy peace. It’s from your dust I came, and to your dust I will return.

(Acts 4, Psalm 2, Colossians 3, John 3)


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