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Walking in the slowly-getting-cooler Austin evening

by davesandel on September 12th, 2021

Sunday, September 12, 2021                                     (today’s lectionary)

 

Walking in the slowly-getting-cooler Austin evening

I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living. I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice in supplication on the day I called.

Big day for the Tomitas yesterday, and we helped celebrate. New furniture on their new screened in patio, a new charcoal grill that Aki and I put together just in time for amazing ribeye steaks from Indiana, and joy in Miles-and-Jasperville. They had fun with everything. And then they ate corn on the cob like it was going to disappear any second.

The Lord keeps the little ones; I was brought low and he saved me.

Finally we were heading home. I began filling up the car with this and that, and said hello to some walkers, Don and Shirley. They were older folks like me. We had time to stop and talk. They had no dog, no steps to count, no hurry.

Pointing at Andi’s house, Don asked, “Are you related to the folks who live there?” They asked more questions than I did; it’s not often I find an interviewer more focused than I am.

We talked about cows and dairy farming, since a Holstein cow sign marks their driveway and they came from Minnesota. “I milked cows by hand when I was seven,” Don said. He’s 82 now. Shirley looked up at him. “He was the dairy farmer, and I loved the cows.” That made sense to me; I milked cows by hand when I was seven too. And I never felt especially friendly toward them.

They told me that Don and Shirley’s and Andi-Aki’s homes are the only two in the neighborhood with a bedroom on the first floor. They are very grateful for that floor plan now. They’ve lived in the neighborhood since it was built up 25 years ago. When they moved in, fresh from Minnesota, there was a pasture beyond their back yard. Now one of the busiest thoroughfares in north Austin zooms right on by. Twenty-five years ago they watched workmen buzz through several live oaks that were in the way of the highway. Really? They had hoped for a parkway back there, with trees and grass between the lanes of traffic. Didn’t happen.

But they have no regrets. The neighborhood has been peaceful for two and a half decades; they quietly count their blessings. Their 63rd wedding anniversary trip this year was to Hawaii. On another trip, to the Holy Land, they visited their next door neighbor’s birthplace, Bethlehem. “That was the best trip of all for me,” Don said.

The Lord has freed my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

They spoke with affection about neighbors across the street that we have met, a family with four girls and a friendly dog that go to Grace Covenant Church, where Andi and Aki have been members for years. I realized that being with Shirley felt a little like being with a shepherd; I think she knows all her neighbors. Don and Shirley might be the oldest couple on the street, and I had the sense they would be available for anything anybody needed.

If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warm and well-fed, but then do not give them what they need, what good is that? So also, faith without works is dead.

Earlier in the afternoon another David, who with his crew of sons and friends replaced windows and siding on Aki and Andi’s house, came to pick up a scaffold and driveway full of discarded pieces of siding and other stuff. Miles and I scavenged a few things, and David loved up both the kids. He jumped at the chance to visit the Houseboat meeting next month when I told him about it. He too felt like a shepherd; I felt safe around him.

Don, Shirley and David enriched my life yesterday in such simple ways. I’m sure that’s because all of them had listened a long time ago to Jesus:

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the good news, will save it.

And truly, I think they are listening still.

(Isaiah 50, Psalm 116, James 2, Galatians 6, Mark 8)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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