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Traveling with Marc

by davesandel on April 30th, 2021

Friday, April 30, 2021             (today’s lectionary)

Traveling with Marc

You are my son; this day I have begotten you.

Marc and his parents (us) on Tuesday, moving through East Austin we tracked down Native Hostel, where our upstairs neighbors are sharing the stage on Tuesday nights with other stand-up comics from Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, San Diego and Austin. A friendly Austin police person helped me squeeze our car into a tiny spot near the building, which has several rooms and venues operating all at once. “It’s busy tonight,” she said. A commercial was being filmed there that night. “We don’t leave a small footprint,” one of the guys told me.

“Well, everybody loves you,” I said.

“Yeah, at least for the first day.”

Ask of me and I will give you the nations for an inheritance and the ends of the earth for your possession.

We sat on a giant leather couch with our son Marc. The comedy was often raw, at least raw to Margaret and me. But the final 12 minute performance of the night included surprise opera (a well-known part of “La Donna e mobile” from Rigoletto and a sweet moment when the Italian comedian turned to Margaret and said, affectionately, “You look like my nonna.” Our upstairs friends called us out as their neighbors. And of course we were the oldest people in the room.

I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord.

A couple of days later after a Belgian waffle breakfast at Andi’s, Marc and I set off in the rain for Texas Hill Country. We stopped at the roadside Devil’s Backbone Tavern, and then drove on to the picnic ground which I found on my last trip. We walked around the fence, looking at eulogies and memorials friends have left for their loved ones.

We found a pint-sized Johnny Walker Black bottle and lots of covid masks. The note that I read last month was still there, although the words were fading: “I am mad at the doctors for giving you all of that medicine. I have been mad at God for too long. I think about your laugh every day. You are always in my heart.”

In my Father’s house are many mansions. If there were not, would I have told you I am going to prepare a place for you?

Marc and I both have soft places inside. Both of us were crying as we finished our walk around the picnic ground. We drove south to a trail along the Guadalupe River, where one solitary couple was finishing their hike through the misty rain. Fragrance from giant blooming honeysuckle bushes filled the air. The rain came down harder as we walked alone into the woods. After awhile we clamored down the slope to the river.

Eventually we had to come back up, and it was hard to keep our footing on the slippery mud. Marc went first, and several times he put out his hand for me to grab. I remembered years ago, remembered our camping trip and hike back up and out of the Havasupai reservation at the west edge of the Grand Canyon. On that Arizona day in 1999 he finished the several-hour hike first, and when I reached the top he held out a can of ice cold Coke for me.

Back in the car we found a roadside grill beside Canyon Lake Dam. Our picnic table meal included fried green tomatoes with jalapeno ranch sauce, which ruined our appetites for the crawfish and crab we’d planned to eat at Buc-ee’s later. In New Braunfels we were the only visitors to the German-Catholic Church, built in 1871. Outside the church the shady branches of a beautiful live oak hosted mass in 1849, 22 years before the church itself was built. We stood under those branches yesterday, and I felt the communion of the saints bind us together. I believe in …

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.

Exhaustion was setting in. Marc bought us cappuccinos and we sat at a sidewalk table on the city square. A bandstand in the park across the street reminded me of music I heard so often coming from the Latham Park bandstand in Lincoln, Illinois. In those days the tuba always seemed so huge, and I always felt so small, just a little guy who loved ice cream socials on hot Lincoln summer Sundays.

We talked. A lot. In the car we listened to God Save Texas by Lawrence Wright, and It’s a Long Story by Willie Nelson. For a few minutes I played some Todd Snider tunes. We had listened to Todd Snider’s music in Arizona, twenty years ago.

Back in Austin we took pictures in front of the fairly famous “Greetings from Austin” mural and looked through the fence at the empty Barton Springs Pool, which opens at 5 am. Covid closed it for a year, but it’s open again now. Every day of every year the temperature of this clear, blue pool stays at 68 degrees.

None of us humans are that stable, of course. My emotions rock me up and down, I make good choices and bad ones, I say wise things and stupid things. It was great yesterday to be with Marc, who does all that too. To love him, and know he loves me … anyway.

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

(Acts 13, Psalm 2, John 14)


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