Wednesday, February 11, 2009

traveling mercies

This week was an adventure.

It started this last Thursday night…
Thursday night: Arlington and then home to Southlake
Friday night: Mason, TX (just northwest of Fredricksburg)
Saturday night: Brownwood, TX (central Texas)
Sunday night: Comanche, TX (little bit east of Brownwood)
Monday night: Missouri City, TX outside of Houston
Tuesday night (last night): Denton, TX north of Dallas/Ft.Worth
Friday night: Paris, France
Saturday night: Camp des Cimes, La Rivoire, Bourg d’Oisans, France

I’ve been reflecting on everything and I’m trying to crystallize all my favorite moments into memory…

Starting last Thursday… I played “volley-pong” around a ping-pong table with a crew of Indian students from University Texas Arlington. Goba and Anyesh (I know I have miserably miss-spelled their names) taught me how to play ping-pong using the rules of volley-ball… the result… little plastic ping-pongs flying through the air at break-neck speeds… running to hit the ball with your paddle to your team mate… running into the wall in your distraction… running while contortion-ing your arms like a Picasso painting to try and hit the ball back to the other side of the table.

Mason, TX is a beautiful small town in the middle of Texas mesquite flats and scattered scrub oaks. Surrounded for miles, by nothing but goat ranches, prickly pear, and pick-up trucks. I was there for a church retreat… we drove into the Texas sunset… up and down the hills… over cattle-guards… down a dirt path (for miles)… and finally descended down the steepest hill to discover a tiny little creek-bed valley that had whittled-out a beautiful hole between the hills. Lined with rock cliffs and floored with oak leaves. In this little hide-away were the largest oak trees… that grew horizontal to the ground, like crab-legs extending in long beautiful directions… littered with children climbing on their branches.

Conversations with people that I love to be around ensued. The hustle and bustle of a large group of people preparing a meal… and then all of us sitting down to eat it. Stories being told. Cooling temperatures in the night air… and as only country Texans know… that certain earthly smell… the aroma of the trees and soil that grows stronger as the earth cools.

Watching “Arrested Development” on the wall with a projector. Enjoying farm-made cheese and wine. Playing “salad-bowl” (a conglomeration of charades and word games) around a kitchen table while sipping peppermint tea.

Jumping on the trampoline with my two little cousins Hannah and Jack. Hannah is twelve and Jack is eight. Hannah asking me questions… about God… about loving enemies… about her 6th grade crush Thomas who is moving to a different school.

Driving through the pine forests along I-45 as rain sprinkled the car… and finally, out-driving the storm and reaching the line in the sky between the dark rain clouds and the light-blue sky. The sun had just showed up when…. glug-bump glug-bump glug-bump… my back tire went flat. The wind was whipping! The storm front was right behind me… blowing my luggage over and making it difficult to keep my page in the car manual open to the right page! I was half way finished changing my tire. I loosened the lug-nuts by myself… which took all my muscles combined… got the spare out… had gotten the car on a jack… I had grabbed my camera to take pictures of the little dilapidated white shack and the green field at which I was parked.... when all of a sudden…! A giant 18-wheeler pulled over, and Doug the trucker/ odd knight in shining armor helped me finish changing my tire. Good Samaritan incarnated.

Falling asleep next to my grandmother, Peep, under her canopy bed. Intricate wood arched over my head with white lace hanging along its frames… an old treasure that Peep and Pop have had since they married over fifty years ago. It was storming! Rain pelted the side-walk outside. I didn’t want to get my pajamas from the car… so I borrowed pajamas from Peep… a giant moo-moo pajama dress…white flannel covered by little pink rose-buds. Peep and I told stories… rubbed noses in an Eskimo goodnight kiss… and fell asleep to her favorite radio station… soft-rock… I think I fell asleep to Cat Stevens “Bridge over troubled waters.”

…it was a lot of driving… but worth every second.

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