Saturday, August 30, 2008

texas wants me anyway

Life is clipping along for me at a speed that makes reflection feel a bit like a luxury. Though I’m grateful for most of the things going on right now, I’m always wary of going too long without taking stock and doing my best to listen. They don’t call it break-neck speed for nothing, I suppose. We headed to Texas a couple of weeks ago to help lead a retreat with Gordon and Jeanene Atkinson (Gordon’s already posted here), which enabled us to tack on a few days and see family and friends. One of my favorite things about our sojourn was the first day, which Ginger and I did in true Brasher-Cunningham fashion.

On our first date, I took Ginger to see Lyle Lovett in Fort Worth. As it turned out, Lyle was playing the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth the weekend we arrived. In my mind, I bought tickets for Friday night, which meant we could land Thursday in San Antonio, drive through Austin to eat lunch with David Gentiles, and the end up in Waco at my parents’ house. Friday afternoon, then, the ninety minute drive up I-35 to Cowtown would not seem so bad. Ginger drove to Birmingham on Wednesday to leave Ella with my in-laws and our other Schnauzers. Early Friday morning – I mean early – we both got up to catch flights that would let us meet up in Dallas and fly together to San Antonio. At about five, I pulled the tickets out of the envelope to see that they were for Thursday night – THAT NIGHT – not Friday. So we kept our schedule, seeing Davy and stopping at my folks, but then we kept going on to Fort Worth. When I handed the usher our tickets, he showed us to our seats and said, “You’re just in time.” As my butt hit the cushion, Lyle walked out on stage:

I went to church last Sunday
So I could sing and pray
But something quite unusual
Happened on that day . . .
We had not been in Fort Worth in more than a decade, so we weren’t quite prepared for the transformation of the downtown area. What I remembered as a concrete jungle is now a vibrant mixture of residences, businesses, and entertainment (though I’m not sure where they shipped all the homeless people). We walked around until we got our bearings, had a bite to eat, and then – even though we had only been in Texas for twelve hours, spent time in four cities, and still had an hour and a half to drive before we could sleep – we drove around to see the house where Ginger was living when we got engaged and the first apartment we shared after we married. Once again, they were hard to find in a city that appears to have gotten on fine without us.

I was a youth minister in Fort Worth when I first began talking about the idea of appropriate insignificance. The concept was new to me, though I’m sure it wasn’t original. What it means to me is each one of us is uniquely created in the image of God and of incredible value because we’re breathing and (not but) no one is any more valuable than anyone else. One night I was talking about it with the kids and I took a glass of water and stuck my finger into it.

“As long as I leave my finger there, the water moves to make a place. But when I take my finger out,” I said as I removed it from the glass, “the only evidence it was even in the water is my finger’s wet. The water filled in behind me.”

For most of our time in Texas, we were in places we had been before. Though we had not been to Laity Lodge before, we stepped back into the Baptist life that is our heritage, and I stepped among many people who had known my family, if not me, for a long time. What I took from the trip, most of all, was the treasure of having time to sit around tables with friends I keep up with but have not had a chance to see in person for years. We shared meals, told stories, laughed, cried, and tightened the bonds that remind us of what matters most.

As Lyle sang when he closed the show:
That's right you're not from Texas
That's right you're not from Texas
That's right you're not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway
Peace,
Milton



There are new recipes here (with a story) and here.

6 comments:

Jimmy said...

I am truly jealous, I'm just not sure if I am more jealous of the retreat or the concert. My IPod flows with LL music.

lynnette said...

you're right--there are parts of ft. worth that have change so much in the last 10-15 years! i'm surprised every time i go home to see my parents. it takes a minute for me to remind myself that the city doesn't stand still while i am away.

Bill Kinnon said...

I am so totally jealous. My kids had to become LL fans - or cover their ears for hours. His live album with the Large Band is amazing. It's on at least once a week in the Toronto home of the Kinnons. Now. What else were you talking about? :-)

Helga said...

Did Ginger see why I want to return there some day? Well. . .I can't hope for too much. :)

zorra said...

How'd you like the Bass? Those angels on the front are way over the top, but I like it anyway.

I can't imagine going to hear Lyle play outside Texas. When we saw him here at the Pavilion, he said between two songs, "I went to Klein High School..." and that northside crowd (probably including some of his classmates)just roared.

Wish I could have come to the retreat. Y'all will all have to do that again sometime.

Roger said...

Milton,the week that I was invited to serve at FBC, Austin, "You're not from Texas" came out....as a native Okie, the song became my "confirmation" of sorts...and the committee framed a copy of the words for me....I'm not from Texas as my Texas wife and Texas-born children remind me regularly..but they love me anyway!!

Thanks for being so kind to so many of my folks at Laity....