I made pilgrimage this week. I spent the past week in Houston Texas for a conference with my church leadership. It was a good week. I learned a lot and since I am a priest in a small denomination with no local parish near me it was good to be able to meet, worship and work with my bishop. Such meetings are important for military chaplains because even those from larger denominations often have to minister in isolation from their denomination which for some leads to problems.
There is danger in being a “Lone Ranger” in ministry and those that become isolated tend to get in trouble more often than those that maintain healthy relationships with their own churches as well as other chaplains from different denominations. Collegiality is important in public ministry, especially the chaplain ministry. Lone Rangers frequently not only lose contact with their roots but also tend to isolate themselves from other chaplains of different denominations that might be able to help them. So for me it was good to be with the church leadership, to reconnect and to see the things going on in the church.
Nationals Relief Pitcher Mike Gonzalez signing Autographs and talking to Fans
I lived in Texas from 1987 through 1994. I first went there in 1983 as a new Army Lieutenant. Texas is an interesting state and contrary to the impressions of many who have not been there it is not monolithic. The various cities and regions have their own unique flavor. Most of my time in Texas was spent in San Antonio or the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. I also served in the Texas Army National Guard while in seminary and during my Clinical Pastoral Education hospital residency. That service allowed be to become acquainted with parts of the state and its people that I would have never have experienced had I not served in the Guard.
However I never spent any time in Houston until last year when I came down for my first clergy conference as a Priest in the Apostolic Catholic Orthodox Church. http://apostoliccatholicorthodox.org . Houston is definitely different than San Antonio or the Dallas, just as it seems that you are in a different states when you travel between Dallas and Fort Worth.
Most places in Texas have a unique hospitality that is more welcoming of outsiders than much of the rest of the South. I think that is because of its unique history compared to the rest of the country. I found that especially true in Houston where wearing my Baltimore Orioles cap stood out from the locals. People were very friendly and helpful everywhere I went and I really enjoyed myself.
Astros Outfielder Marwan Gonzalez hitting a Home Run in the First Inning
I was able to take in a ball game between the hapless Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park on Monday. The Astros lost in extra innings but I had a great seat near the Nationals dugout with a military discount that got me into the game for $20. The game kind of took me back to childhood when I went to the California Angels games in Anaheim. Players from both teams were taking time to talk with fans and sign autographs and I was able to get a ball signed by Houston All-Star Second Baseman Jose Altuve. The man that sat next to me had retired from the oil industry and had moved to Houston in the early 1970s who was bemoaning the condition of the Astros franchise. Baseball fans who suffer with struggling franchises have a unique kinship. We are not like fans of teams that are always in playoff contention and feel the pain of the other. On the way back from the stadium, “Mo” the cab driver who came to the United States from Morocco 30 years ago talked baseball the whole way back to the hotel. He knew the game and the Astros, better than many Americans that know. That was a enjoyable cab ride.
During the trip I was able to experience many of the local craft beers brewed in the city. There are many of these compared to other cities that I have traveled. I was fortunate to have stayed in a hotel near a new watering hole called the West End which features a large number of these beers. I particularly liked the (512) Brewing Company IPA, the BuffaloBayou 1836 Copper Ale, the Saint Arnold Brewery Summer Pilsner and the Karbach Brewery Sympathy for the Lager.
I am on my way back, well sort of on my way back. My flight is delayed and hopefully it will not screw up my connection at DFW. Last time this happened I made the connection but my baggage didn’t arrive until the next day.
Blessings and Peace, pray for me a wayward traveler.