Saturday, May 11, 2013

Can I Get Mine To Go?

Yesterday was one of those great days. It was one of those days so filled with adventure and serendipity that you wake up the next morning with the awareness that your five senses have been heightened to extremes!

We took a day trip South to reconnect with old friends. But because Jon and I are enjoy-the-journey types, we soaked up the scenery along the way down. Bluebonnets were still happily blooming, thanks to our mild Spring. We played 70's music and sang the wrong words at the tops of our lungs. We held hands across the pickup console, relishing memories of our first date 40 years ago, how and where he asked me, what courage it took for him. We spoke of being destined for each other...why others couldn't see in us what we saw in each other. After 35 years of all the ups and downs of marriage, contentment and deep, abiding love have been the outcome. It was worth the fight.

We made our reconnection with our friends and fellow colleagues in the work of ministry, and enjoyed catching up on children, grandchildren, directions of ministry, world changes. After a wonderful visit, with laughter and tears and Jon's lame jokes, we began our return North.

Traffic was hectic but steadily moving. We saw our old friend, Sam Houston, standing very tall and statesmanlike beside the highway, and Jon took the next exit ramp off. We ended up at one of our favorite "haunts" sorry for the terrible pun... at a cemetery. The Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville, TX is filled with the history of Texas since before the Texas Revolution of 1836. Sam Houston is buried there. Other heroes and early settlers are, too. Our visit there was brief but meaningful: a yellow fever epidemic went through in 1867, killing many including, eventually, the town doctor. Women died young there, of complications from childbirth or from the hard life created by nation-building. We thanked them all, as we walked among the tall cedars and moss-covered tree roots. The cemetery was teeming with life.

We got back in the pickup, and we drove two blocks up the hill to the stop light heading back to the highway. Straight ahead was the Huntsville Unit of the Texas State Prison system. It is a massive red brick building in the middle of old Huntsville, the building like a well-preserved relic from the 19th century. We were able to drive all the way around it, experiencing each armed guard on the high walls, the radiating of foreboding from the inside. This is the unit for death row inmates. It holds those for whom our society holds no hope. Death lives there, inside those high walls.

And just within earshot of the Huntsville Unit, the courthouse square was serving up live music, while families sat on blankets on the lawn. Children were running and playing as the band supplied the crowd with melodies of sadness and wistful heart songs. The irony of the experience was not lost on us. We drove by Sam Houston State University as we headed for our original highway home, and we considered the intensity of ...well, of that community. From I-45 you see the newer-built units of the prison system there. To see it all, you have to leave the highway, interrupt your journey, and make a destination out of something you would rather not see.

I slept the rest of the way home, with my head on the console and Jon's fingers playing in my hair. I could still smell the cedars as I drifted off...

"Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."