Connecting the Dots

A baptism had been there, B.C. (before you-know-what), an impressive Catholic church; I got there by Google on the phone. Recently, on a late Saturday afternoon, well-dressed people were lingering, entering, it seemed for a wedding.

It is on a street between the Green Giant coffee house at the southern end of the lake, and, some miles away, the oddly parenthesized (Urban) Taco. Each of the other had often been walking destinations; this was the first time I walked between them. The discovery: the church is here, in this place, between those other two places.

Walking is a good way to connect the various destinations of your life. In fifteen minutes you can drive to a baptism that it would take you two hours by foot; but by foot, a sort of continuity is made between you and the destination, not to mention all the other destinations of your daily life. Some of mine are Merit Coffee in Deep Ellem (whose motto, I think, ought to be “not by grace but by merit”) and Ascension Coffee at the end of the yet-to-be-discovered Trinity Strand Trail (it’s the end if you start near the medical district).

With my camino pack (contents: fifteen pounds), I was walking near the construction at the Children’s Hospital when a van paused on the busy street. My destination, still some three miles ahead, was the aforementioned Ascension Coffee. A voice shouted at me. The passenger had her window open; she was holding a styrofoam take-out container with, maybe, a soup container on top. She asked if I wanted it; as best I could tell, she was offering me food.

Here I am, dressed in walking clothes on a clement afternoon, large backpack, on foot in an area where few people walk. My guess is that she sized me up as homeless, or at least lost. I smiled my thanks but declined the offer. “Do I look so bad?” was what I thought next. It must be strange to see an aging, skinny guy walking with a backpack in a somewhat bleak part of the city, near the elevated highway, amid construction debris. The irony of a guy with a bank account and a regular job, on his way to meet a friend for dinner, being offered a hand-out, felt like—well, it seemed like it might be strange love.


These too are dots to be connected, between me and other people, people without bank accounts and dinner plans.

Pope John Paul II loved to quote a line from a Vatican II document (Gaudiem et spes, 1965): “By virtue of his Incarnation, the Son of God has in some way united himself with every human being.” Walking is a symbol of this: it puts on a single mental map the various destinations of our life. And it allows a stranger’s van to pull up beside us, to remind us how we are all so mysteriously connected.

Out & About. On Ash Wednesday, March 2, I am to preach at Church of the Incarnation in Dallas at 7 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m.

The next “Good Books & Good Talk” seminar will be at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, on Children of Men by P. D. James. The book is quite different from the movie, and more theological (which, in my book, means better).

The Rev. Canon Dr. Victor Lee Austin is the Theologian-in-Residence for the diocese and is the author of several books including, "Losing Susan: Brain Disease, the Priest's Wife, and the God who Gives and Takes Away."