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Riverrun, flow and flow, then pour into the sea

by davesandel on March 24th, 2021

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Riverrun, flow and flow, then pour into the sea

(Today’s lectionary)

Can you remain in my word? If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free. And when the Son frees you, you will be free indeed.

The Guadalupe River has flowed this way west, then south for hundreds of years, and now an hour before sunset, I watch its swift current carry sticks and bones down its path into the sea.

It rained awhile this afternoon, and the gray swirling foggy sky cleared up. Now the air is warm with spring and spent rain, and I smell steak cooking in Billy Gene’s kitchen right here beside the river. I’m the only one sitting outside for the moment. Inside it’s crowded, it’s noisy, and here I’m on the threshold of heaven.

Is it true that you will not serve my God? Be ready now to fall down and worship! Otherwise you will instantly be thrown into my white-hot furnace. And who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?

I stopped for lunch at the Devil’s Backbone Tavern, but they had no lunch. “We haven’t served food since Covid,” she said. She gave me a tour of the grounds. An old Volkswagen with a cattle horn antenna decorated the front yard. I decided to skip drinking beer without food at 12:30 in the barely afternoon.

There is no need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If our God, whom we serve can save us, then may he do it. But even if he will not, O King, know that we will not serve your god or worship that golden statue.

The devil’s backbone is a ridge between two valleys in the Texas Hill Country. Lyndon Johnson, and his dad before him, campaigned here. Lyndon wrestled the powers that be and championed rural electrification in 1938, the first poles were set in 1939, and his hardscrabble farmer neighbors finally joined their Austin neighbors with bright lights at night. Lyndon didn’t always win his elections fairly, I’ve heard, but he did marvels for the people in his district, or his state, or his country, after he took office.

A few miles past the well-lit tavern, I stopped at a picnic area-overlook-makeshift memorial, the fences covered with hearts and crosses and Johnny Walker bottles and several heart-ripping testimonials. Above a blue COVID mask and red fishing bobber:

“I loved it when you would wear your birthday cake hat around town, even when it wasn’t your birthday. People would say, “Happy Birthday!” And you loved it. I am mad at the doctors for giving you all of that medicine. I have been mad at God far too long. I think about your laugh every day. You are always in my heart.”

King Nebuchadnezzar’s face was livid. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were bound and thrown into the furnace. But then … “I see four men walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God!” Blessed are you, o God our Father on the throne of your kingdom, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.

Behind the chain link fence this note was attached to, the hills stretch north away to the horizon. Life is not fair, Solomon tells us, and then we die. Fear God, and keep his commandments. All of them. Live your life up and down and all around, all the way until it ends.

(Daniel 3, Luke 8, John 8)

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