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Tangled threads

by davesandel on April 10th, 2021

Saturday in the Octave of Easter, April 10, 2021                  (today’s lectionary)

Tangled threads

The leaders recognized Peter and John. They knew they were uneducated, ordinary men, and they were the companions of Jesus.

I am caught, on this beautiful spring morning in central Texas, reading compelling stories about life in the face of death. John Prine wrote songs that more than pushed up against poetry –  they were poetry. The Felician sisters in Livonia, Michigan lived their lives far beyond those last moments when they were laid down on their convent’s bedroom floors, unable to breathe. The sadness and questions in those left, along with their occasional relapses into strange, punitive theologies, are all overcome by life.

My strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has been my savior. I hear the joyful shout of victory in the tents. I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.

There are always memories, of course. This morning’s news stories are laced with beautiful reflections of “back then.” But today, in this moment of Now, I have not just memories but inspiration. As I think back, I know that so often I do what I do now because of what my Aunt Mary, or my mom, or my dad or grandpa, or my mentor Al did … then.

I’ve been down this road before

I remember every tree

Every single blade of grass

Holds a special place for me

And I remember every town

And every hotel room

Every song I ever sang

On a guitar out of tune

 – from John Prine’s last recorded song, “I Remember Everything”

On days when Miles and Jasper walk in our front door my quiet reflections fade, carried off by their shouts of exultation and joy. “Here we are! We’re so happy to be with you! Let’s set up the tent! Let’s make strawberry shortcake!”

After they settle a little, we “circle” (or try to) and sing today’s favorite song. We clap our hands through the calendar days until we get to today. Jasper puts a sticker on this day’s calendar square. Margaret gives us a choice: we can talk about one of God’s names, or do a calisthenic.

Then the fun begins. There’s never any hurry, exactly, although Miles wants to do everything right now. Usually, we turn the corner every few minutes to head down another road into yet another intersection. Which way should we go? See the smiles on their faces and the sparkling eyes? It doesn’t matter! Let’s just pick one!

Yesterday the kiddos didn’t come, and Margaret and I made a short pilgrimage to the Texas State Cemetery. Central in the cemetery is a statue of Stephen F. Austin, standing high in the air, his right arm raised to the east in blessing. On the way to the cemetery we stopped at Treaty Oak Square on Baylor Street, where under a 500 year old live oak tree, Mr. Austin signed a treaty with local Native Americans, hoping to stop the conflicts between his settlers and the tribes who had lived here for a very long time.

Arborists estimate the tree was already 100 years old when Columbus found Caribbean land in 1492. But in 1989, the tree was deliberately poisoned by a vandal. The amount of Velpar he poured on its roots should have killed 100 trees, but this one didn’t die. It clung to life then and continues to grow. It has begun to produce acorns again.

No longer majestic, the Treaty Oak’s beauty is deeper now. City construction noises surrounded us, but I knew I could also hear history, distant music from peace pipes and fiddles, sounds of men and women slowly learning to live fairly together.

You know that old trees just grow stronger

And old rivers grow wilder every day

Old people just grow lonesome

Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello” (John Prine)

 After leaving the cemetery we found a new food truck named “Distant Relatives,” chef Damien Brockley’s labor of love. After leaving his mark on fine restaurants in Boston, San Francisco and Austin, Damien now chooses to spends his time smoking meat and creating sides like sweet potato mousse and green papaya slaw in a trailer next to Leal’s Tire Shop, honoring his heritage.

Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and she told his companions. They did not believe. Jesus walked with two of his disciples along their way to the country. They told the others, and they did not believe. Then Jesus appeared to the eleven at dinner and rebuked them for their unbelief. Then he told them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

Damien’s food was incredible. We took our time eating, listening for Paradise, savoring the tangle of our own life’s threads with so many others, now and then.

(Acts 4, Psalm 118, John 21)

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One Comment
  1. Shannon Reeves permalink

    Thankful for john prine and I’ll be checking out the food truck soon! And I’m thankful for you my friend!

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