This is the first actual moment of Sabbath in two weeks. I’m sitting on the side of the road at JP’s Java, having a “for here” cup of coffee. I love the idea of the “for here” cup of coffee. We’re so obsessed with grabbing a cup on our way to/from wherever it us we’re running late. But when you know you have time to sit in one place long enough to enjoy a caffe mocha with housemade chocolate…life is pretty okay. I keep being surprised that Texas doesn’t fit into the boxes I’ve always designated for it. Surely this is how I feel about the world – it’s situational, case-by-case, real, individual, human beings. And, yes, I have met some “standard” Texan men, but I’ve also seen through that which I projected onto them and come to see that they are tender fathers and deep thinkers and culturally competent, multilingual, beautiful children of God.
I will miss them.
From now on, when I talk about Texas (especially in this election year) I will have to take a step back from my words about Rick Perry and remember these men. Certainly they do not see eye-to-eye with me on a number of serious political points. But they have not written me off because of that; they have talked to me about it – they have listened to me preach about it! They’ve even mustered up the decency to say, “Nice sermon, Casey,” even though they may have disagreed – and even disagreed with my right to preach it! But just as much as they are learning what a California Democrat looks like in real life, I’m learning what Texas Republican looks like in real life. And I’m not disgusted. I’m not offended.
I have come to love them.
This is the place where I admit that my “inclusive” worldview has not included those who exclude. This is where I admit that I have been changed by this place. This is where I admit that maybe I did not come here to change them. This is where I admit that I was not in control of this experience. For some reason, in Dr. Vargas’ Ministry Across Cultures class, I volunteered to spend $1000 and fly halfway across the country, separate from my PLTS friends, to spend 3 weeks with Episcopalians – in Texas, the state I thought I’d never survive. But the spirit moves us to decisions we can’t believe we’ve made.
Like the decision to love Texas.
I said it! I love Texas! I love that everything is humongous! And that there’s a Lone Star on it or it’s shaped like Texas or it’s covered in BBQ sauce. Or that all the music includes banjos and lyrics about cows! And that people wear cowboy boots not as fashion statements but because they are actually cowboys! And I love that people speak Spanish here and aren’t upset that immigrants don’t speak English! And that everyone is so friendly! And hospitable! And gracious! And gives you the benefit of the doubt! The stereotypes of Los Angeles and San Francisco as pretentious and mean come from somewhere and I even love that sometimes. But here, people in public restrooms say, “Hi, how are ya?” and actually want to know! In a state I thought was self-centered and stubborn, I found people who subsist on niceness. Everywhere we went, we were family.
Encinitas is my heart and my soul and I will never love a place more than that – EVER. But never before have I experienced statewide kindness like I have in Texas.
There is grace deep in the heart of Texas.