In Texas, while I look out the window of the white Suburban, the sky reaches her arms out wide and saunters softly overhead. We drive slow and easy and the road under the wheels whispers stories I can’t hear with my ears.
I sit in the second row, and in the front seat, Marcus and Shelly speak spirit to spirit because we’ve all spent two days in the canyon with our hearts resting on our sleeves. This side trip takes us into town to the Leakey Mercantile where cowboy hats and giant cans of green beans share shelf space with sangria and salsa made in Texas, and beautiful brown children look at me and smile.
In the canyon, we’ve been learning about words and sentences. Lauren Winner says the first rule is no apologies. No apologizing for our words, and we each stand up taller in our souls. We are the benefactors of the dreams of a grocery store owner and his wife. Years before, they thought the beauty of the canyon should be shared. Thousands have come into the canyon to meet God, to hone a craft, to gain perspective, to find their way. People like Madeline L’Engle, Eugene Peterson, and me.
On the way back from the Mercantile, Marcus points to a scenic overlook and asks us if we’d like to stop and we are writers with cameras so we say, “Yes.” Marcus steers the Suburban off the highway and into the limestone parking lot. We leave the car and shut the doors and walk down the stairs to where a chain link fence marks the safe place at the edge of the cliff.
The man and his wife who dreamed of sharing the canyon are owners of the H.E.B. grocery stores and these stores are a household name in Texas. I’m trailing behind but I hear Marcus telling us that way back in the 50s and 60s, when a community H.E.B. store reached a certain level of profitability, that store gifted the community with a tennis court or a swimming pool. The community could choose.
There was just one caveat, and it required the community to be integrated. In Texas. In the 50s and 60s.
Stories like that aren’t lost on me.
“Wow,” I said. “That story needs to be told.”
In the white Suburban, and the canyon, and the airports between home and Texas, and the grocery store in my own town, and the neighborhood where I live, and the world of social media, and the groups of people who go on missions trips and write blog posts about them, my skin is often the darkest and I notice it every time and those are stories we can’t hear with our ears.
Yes. I’m going there. I’m going to write it out here in this space. For thirty one days. Ish. I’m going to write what I see when I look at the world from inside this brown skin of mine. I hope you’ll stick around. I pray we can talk about it together. I have questions. You might, too.