Clarity and Trust in the Texas hill country: Part II

our guest house for the weekend

our guest house for the weekend



Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

We drove straight to Salt Lick BBQ when we arrived. It didn’t disappoint.


Mommy and I spent Friday afternoon by the river and sitting on the porch swing. The open space gave us room to breathe. It’s a strange feeling though, as your body begins to let go of tension and stress. You want to hold on to it, even as you try your best to relax.

We took a ride on the RTV. Up the long dirt road. Past the longhorns, horses, blue bonnets, and cacti. I sipped on a Shiner Bock while I examined the Texas mud still clinging to my boots from a previous trip. We carry it with us sometimes.

Friday evening we had dinner at the Pecan Street Brewery with Aunt Carolyn, Uncle Roy, and Aunt Janice. We laughed and told stories….many of them about you kids. Roy asked us “if money were no obstacle, where in the world would you live?” Mine and Mommy’s answer came quick. Even as I said it I wondered about the old island. I know it doesn’t exist in the way it did before, but the breezes and the smells are the same.

Saturday morning I woke up early, as usual. I starred out the window on the back of the quest house for a few minutes before I put  my boots on.


I made coffee and sat on the front porch admiring the scenery. A cool breeze blew across the open space, whistling through the valley in the river bed. After a few minutes I walked down the river and sat in the dirt.


Once everyone was awake we had breakfast in the cabin. Now THIS is a picture window:


We drove into Fredricksburg. Down long lonely open roads. Strolled through the shops, talked about the future. Considered living in the present. It had been too long since I had walked anywhere with just your Mommy.

We had lunch at Mamacitas – genuine fajitas, burritos, Mexican beers, and hot homemade tortillas dipped in honey. After lunch we drove to Luckenbach, TX. Without Mommy serving as a navigator I would have driven right past it. It’s a tiny place: just a dance hall, a couple of saloons, and an outdoor stage. 100’s of Harley Riders mixed with old cowboys and a few tourists.

“This is your kind of place,” said Mommy when we stepped into town.

Dressed in my cowboy hat and Bob Marley teeshirt, I knew she was right.  I said “hello” to old Hondo and ordered a LoneStar.


We sat for awhile. Long enough to hear “The Road Goes on Forever (and the Party Never Ends)” by the band on stage.

Back on the ranch later that afternoon we fished in the river. I can’t resist when I’m around a body of water, so I changed into some short and went for a swim in the deep middle of the river. Mommy was back up at the cabin, so I floated on my back for a bit there in the Pedernales River, middle-of-nowhere, TX. Mexican eagles flew circles above me and landed on the nearby cliffs.


For the first time in a long time I didn’t have a list of questions about my life going through my head. I just floated, dove deep into the river, swam a little backstroke, and stood on a rock. Buddy the dog eventually came and joined me for a swim after first splashing around in the shallows looking for a fish.


That evening we dined on Carolyn and Roy’s screened in patio. Topics of conversation ranged from running, to worst jobs we ever had, and eventually to proof of God’s existence. I blabbered something about Faith and Trust again. Something about God never promising an easy life, free of trouble or pain or loss. In fact, the opposite is true: we believe in a God who sent his own Son to die. I thought about you for a minute, Max. I knew I could never do the same. God hearing his son’s heartbeat in my chest. The hope that lives inside of me. I can’t grasp it. I didn’t want to anymore.

Mommy and I took flashlights and wandered down to the river bank again. Complete darkness illuminated only by two beams of light. Once by the river we turned the lights off, sat in the gravely dirt by the bank, and looked up. I hadn’t seen a sky like that since we left Seabrook Island, SC. Millions of stars. An overwhelming desire to count them and then an overwhelming feeling of never even beginning to know how.

We talked a little about what might be out there. Whether God left this whole universe beyond our view just to us. How tiny we are in the middle of it all. And for a moment I felt insignificant. And then I remembered the breath breathed into me. The image I was created in. Whose heart beats in my chest. My daily hourly wrestling match with God. His insistence in my life that I trust him and stop demanding clarity.

Alone with my wife, under the stars. I made a list of things in my head that I love. It wasn’t long, but it was significant. Everything else slid away down the river I could hear, but couldn’t see.

It was a great trip. I struggled with reentry when we got home. The questions and the need to control it all came back like an old habit. But I close my eyes and picture that black sky, millions of lights, and I remember how small I felt in the moment. I breathed easy. And let go.

I love you,

– Daddy

Gringo Honeymoon by Robert Earl Keen


Fri: None

Sat: None

Sun: None

Mon: Ran 12 miles

Tues: Swam 2000