A couple of nights ago: two young men, two young women having burgers and beer. One doesn’t intend to overhear their conversation; they’re young, hanging out, maybe they’re couples, maybe not. But then one notices: they’re talking about children. One guy says he wants to have two, because then if the second birth gives twins, you only have three. If you have two and go for three, you might end up with four. One girl says you can’t count on it, she knows a couple that has four children, first they had one, then they had triplets.
    Having overheard that, I couldn’t get back to my theology book, I was so amazed, perhaps even happy. They’re just like I used to be, 40 years ago: poised on the edge of the unknowns of parenthood, ready to leap, trying to maintain some control over the unknown—a vain hope of course, but warming to the overhearing heart. I wanted to say: once you have three, you’re outnumbered. I wanted to pass along the New York wisdom: once you have three, you need two taxis to get anywhere.
    But I really wanted to say: God bless you.
    The next afternoon, at a common table at Starbucks, working on revisions to a lecture. Three young people are next to me with textbooks and notes quizzing each other. They’re medical students of some sort; nurses, maybe, or premed, but perhaps specialists in pediatric or cardiac. If the patient has such and such, what do you do? They’re memorizing a ton of details; they go through lots of variations and how you change the treatment for each case. Their exam is a couple of weeks away; they’re studying, one picks up, every day until then.
    Once again, I’m impressed. They’re bright and they want to do good work to help people. When they mentioned a neurological drug, I wanted to tell them my wife used to take that. I wanted somehow to be a representative of all their future patients (and their future patients’ families) and say thank you for working so hard to do good to people.
    I really wanted to say: God bless you.
    Out & About. This weekend I’ll be at All Souls’ Church in Oklahoma City, preaching Saturday, April 28, at 5:30 p.m., and Sunday at 8, 9:15, and 11 a.m.
    The following Sunday, May 6, I am to be the preacher at St. Philip’s Church in Sulphur Springs, Tex., at the 10:45 a.m. service. After the service, I’ll be talking about “Love, Caregiving, Death, and God.”


A friend, new to Dallas, was telling me about driving around here. “I’m really surprised,” he said, “how many cars have broken signal lights.” Hello? “They must not work; they’re never used.”
    That was a few months ago. I should show him the latest D Magazine with its list of 52 things you have to do in Dallas. No. 51: “Refuse to use turn signals. . . . Nothing is a bigger giveaway that you’re not from around here than a blinking taillight.”
    I’m against cultural relativism: some cultures can be worse than others in some respects. There are many things I like about Dallas, but they don’t include the way people drive. I am impressed, however, that this particular bad driving practice has made a top list in a glossy magazine. Drivers here are famous for not signaling their intentions.
    This is not a good cultural practice. Other driving cultures are better than ours. We should be famous for something else.
    Have I told you this one before? There was a study about how a single driver can make an important difference in heavy traffic. It’s easy: just keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. A safe distance is the distance you cover in two seconds; it is obviously longer when you are driving faster. Keep that space in front of you and other drivers will dart into it. Don’t lose your cool, just pull back a bit and recreate the space.
    What happens is a study in fluid motion. One driver doing this and the whole system actually starts working better. A few drivers and pretty soon it’s much better.
    It’s interesting how humans work together, and how we can learn to work together.
    Good driving requires cooperation, and cooperation requires communication, and that’s what signal lights do: they communicate from one driver to another.
    Is this column about driving? Yes and no. It’s about being human. It’s about not being wrongly angry, about helping others with whom we share a common space and, for a while, a common journey. Intelligently flowing traffic is not a bad picture in an everyday mode of holy communion.
    Out & About. Sunday, April 22, at 6 p.m. I am giving the spring theology lecture as Theologian-in-residence of the diocese of Dallas. It is called “Friendship: The Final Frontier.” It’s at Church of the Incarnation, 3966 McKinney Ave. A reception follows, and (it is hoped) a book is also to follow. The reception, however, will come before the book.
    The following weekend I am preaching at All Souls’ Church in Oklahoma City: Saturday, April 28, at 5:30 p.m., and Sunday following at 8, 9:15, and 11 a.m.

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The Rev. Canon Victor Lee Austin. Ph.D., is the Theologian-in-Residence for the diocese and is the author of several books including, "Friendship: The Heart of Being Human" and "A Post-Covid Catechesis.: