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Pizza under the trees

by davesandel on March 23rd, 2021

Tuesday, March 23, 2021                   (today’s lectionary)

Pizza under the trees

Eating pizza under the live oaks at Grace 360, I met a new friend Sunday. After 33 years in the Air Force, he was a carpenter’s foreman at the University of Texas for awhile. Now, retired from both jobs, he makes beautiful wooden cedar crosses, signs them on the back, and gives them away wherever he can. He carries them in his car and even in a compartment on his motorcycle. He gave one to Margaret and me a few weeks ago when he saw us cuddling in church. On Sunday he asked me to give one to Andi and Aki, which I did.

He is a sweetheart.

With their patience worn out from the journey, the people complained against God and Moses. “Why did you bring us out here? We are disgusted with this wretched food!” And when God punished the people, Moses prayed for the people.

My friend left his former church a couple of months ago, when his pastor preached angry politics from the pulpit on Sunday after our presidential election. Now he looks around at the green grass full of people on this sweet spring morning and says to me, “This is such a positive church. Just look at this!”

O Lord, hear my prayer. Let my cry come up to you. Turn your ear towards me and answer my prayer.

He showed me a picture of his grandkids, 23 and 18 years old. His granddaughter is moving in with him soon, ready to start UT in the fall. She says the two of them are like twins. She’s painting her bedroom a bright beautiful pink and white. I thought of Chris, who lived with his grandparents for two years while finishing his degree at Lincoln Christian College. Chris and my mom and dad became so close.

As my friend said, some of us grow old gracefully, and some don’t. All of us live out the consequences of the choices that we make, within whatever circumstances we find ourselves. As I leave Austin again, this time to head south into the Big Bend desert, I’m glad to be here. I hope the spring flowers will be blooming. I hope the bluebonnets will knock my eyes out.

I brought a tent, a Luggable Loo (), and just in case sleeping in the tent is a little much for my 71-year-old back and legs, I’ve also laid out a pad and sleeping bag in the back of the car, with my head positioned to look out the back window at the stars. I’ll be gone five nights … I’m thinking a motel every other night maybe, and sleeping under the stars the other?

The Lord looked down from his holy height, he heard the groaning of the prisoners and released those doomed to die. O Lord, hear my prayer too!

I’ll be skirting along the Mexican border as much as I can, and crossing it once or twice. My passport is ready. I expect to feel grateful to be white and middle class, and to be praying for many of the folks I’ll see who are not. My friend Peg moved to the Mexican border from Mahomet three or four years ago, specifically to do what she could to help immigrants coming into the US. I was so proud of her. She’s in east Texas, and I’m headed west. I hope we can get together sometime later this year.

Jesus said, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. The one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.

Margaret is recovering this week from a tooth implant she’s been waiting for. I’m walking in the desert, listening. My friend might be making more crosses. He hopes “to make a million.” He’s up to 5 or 6 thousand. “It doesn’t matter how many,” he said. “It’s just a way to love people.”

(Numbers 21, Psalm 102, John 8)


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