6 Minutes to Ballinger

6 minutes to Ballinger, Texas I missed you. Not possessing the ability to stop all the clocks, I watched windmills instead, recording the flat, hot, windy stretch of road while the Catholic radio station came in so clear with words of uneven comfort. I picture you a Ghibli bride, birdcage veil like Jackie Kennedy, always dainty, smallest, sweetest bouquet of flowers held between your front two paws as you proceed toward our mutual Savior, unswerving in his gaze.

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Our Savage Selves

I don’t own a gun but I am grateful the barefoot neighbor in Sutherland Springs did.

Every time we face the devastation of a mass shooting in this country I want to say things like:

We cannot monetize an entertainment culture of violence and not expect it to sway the unhinged.

If we want “better” gun laws we have to enforce the ones we already have.

Andhow many of us know there will be a fatal gap between when 911 is dialed and when help arises?

Without civil accountability in public safety

There is no safety at all.

The Cowboy of Lost Things

his button-down shirt matched the color of his gun and his ten-gallon hat matched his jeans as he brandished his weapon with bravado in the the store-of-lost-things on the corner of the city named for the patron saint of them, poor Native Americans, at some point the irony of namesakes and saints’ days and lost things must have haunted them the way it haunts me as the Nissan with the cat inside next to the bustling night school faces its own lost place on the street named for flowers where a brown bottle will spread its broken pieces like water pooled on the edge of the sidewalk, so close to art, so close to lost on the very edge of the world 

Houston, we have a problem

On June 1st, 2016, People magazine reported on the arrest of a single suspect in the murder of 15 year old Katen Perez, whose brutalized remains were found, not by the Houston police or the Harris County Sheriff but by Texas EquuSearch.

According to the People article the rape and murder of Karen Perez was caught on the suspect’s cellphone.

Harris Co. is not releasing the suspect’s name…wait for it…because he is a juvenile.

He should be charged as an adult, prosecuted as an adult, and his identity exposed as an adult.

For that matter, all the involved possible accomplices should also be formally charged.

For the following reasons:

If you commit a capital felony offense (a fully grown-up crime) you should have to deal with the law as an adult.

Should be enough.  But there is a chilling “because”/second reason–

For years now Texas has been quietly compensating for aggregious juvenile offenders in order to save money on their incarceration and probation.

The  laws of privacy protect the juvenile offenders, allowing them to get juvenile-only plea deals for monstrous felonies then quietly exit the system as adults with no records.

These laws do so at the expense of their former and future victims.

I watched all of this play out in real time.

My adopted son plead no contest to a minor charge.  He was never tried for hundreds of felony offenses.  He was promised no criminal record.  

His story and the stories of several other youthful felony offenders I spoke to during his year in juvenile detention align with the identity protection given to the teen who raped and murdered Karen Perez.

For years now in Texas many juvenile offenders  get far better deals than their victims.

And regrettably, more protection.

Murder on Easter Morning

Easter morning. 

The sun rises on a rolling hill in New Braunfels as worshippers gather to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus.

Yet as the dawn Christians  worship, a savage domestic drama unfolds within yards of the sanctuary.

Felix Antonio Nieves, seventeen years old, dies as the result of what news sources have described as a protracted domestic argument.

The accounts of the last moments of Nieves’ life describe multiple weapons–stun guns, a pistol, and the shotgun used to end his life.

What is shocking about this story?

7:15 on Easter morning?

The quiet neighborhood?

The proximity to a church?

Or the knowledge neighbors have that their neighbors include law enforcement officers?  That this is a neighborhood where people might feel safer because some of their own neighbors are officers of the peace?

Or again, that this neighborhood is within a mile or two of a police station?

Maybe.  But what shocks me is that in a protracted story of domestic violence, no one called for police intervention until a murder had already been committed.

What does that say about Texas?  About us?  About justice?

We should call the police before we load and shoot a gun.

Why didn’t they?  Why did no one call the police until it was too late to save one family from irrevocable tragedy?

The answers might surprise us all…if we were brave enough to face them.

Bring the Rain

I have a short story I recite with my son–

It rains
And then the worms come out
Then the birds eat the worms.

You will notice it is both a celebration and a cautionary tale.

The worms don’t fare so well.

But at this point the story is almost entirely mythic. It does not rain here. My son does not know rain.

I have written about my misguided annoyance about this drought, this lack of rain. I used to think God was not listening to me. Now I know we are not listening to Him.

This is our drought.

Both California and Texas are experiencing historic droughts. Here in Texas we squander our water on fracking. In California they are paying people to remove their lawns and deep water drilling is big business.

And in our churches we ignore our glorious interventionist God.

We must pray for rain.

But first we must pray for the reign of God. Our lack of water is merely a sign of the drought of holiness that defines this generation of believers in Christ.

The message is simple and incisive and begins with a question not an injunction, an invitation to love, not a list of rules.

Ask yourself–

Are you in love with God? Do you long for Him the way a man in the desert longs for rain?

And if the answer is yes then the result will be apparent to all who know you.

You will bring that rain. You will bring that water.

The water of life. The city of God. A Man, a Word: Jesus.

There are no deserts of either holiness or love when He is close.

So keep Him close.

Bring the rain.