A Beautiful Morning at Robert Lee, Texas

By Curtis K. Shelburne

It’s been a beautiful morning in Robert Lee, Texas. My brothers and I have been back here together at the old home place for a few precious days. I’ve been imitating my great-grandfather and grandfather by spending some time this morning just sitting in a lawn chair by the side of the old house under the shade of the old-very old-Arizona cypress tree, and just thinking.

I’ve spent some enjoyable minutes simply trying to be still and breathe and watch the finches playing in the hedge. If I’m quiet and still, I wonder if those little birds will be brave enough to venture back up toward the bird feeder not far from my chair. I hate to bother them. They’re busier than I am today.

And there’s an exceptionally busy and adventurous bee flying around and occasionally venturing inside the spent root beer can a few feet away.

A couple of new birds have started singing songs I don’t recognize, and a raunchy grackle has just zipped by. I wish I had my grackle gun. I’ve heard someone say that those dirty birds are endangered. Only if my aim is on.

Ah, and there refreshing my ears comes the sound of the chimes from the First Methodist Church down the street.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation/O my soul, praise Him for He is thy health and salvation!/All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;/Join me in glad adoration!

I love those chimes! Whoever programs them (I’m quite sure they’re computerized) has great taste in hymns.

Every hour they chime.

“Be Thou my vision …”

“Let there be peace on earth …”

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty! …”

Those chimes have been a well-loved part of the Robert Lee landscape for years. I wonder how they came to be?

Did some dear saint who’d loved that church and community for years bless them by leaving in her will provision for that beauty-and thus relieve them of the need for Option 2?

Option 2: Did the church follow the time-tested church pattern for such things by forming a committee to consider forming a committee whose task would be to talk about forming a committee to perhaps form a committee to discuss chimes? And then at the last of 124 meetings, did some pious or persnickety parishioner (take your pick; I know what I think, and I guarantee you his fellow members know) on the committee intone, “I think we ought to use all that money for missions or to give to the poor?”

Sometimes that’s exactly what you should do. I know. Add up the missions time of various of my family members and it mounts up well past 50 years. I’m for missions. But all that passes for piety at committee meetings ain’t. (Read John 12:4-6.) And I’m glad Brother Pious got voted down.

For years, those chimes have blessed that whole community. Every time they waft through the breeze and into my ears, they call me to deeper faith and point me to words that direct me to God and remind me of whose I am and who has given me the precious gift of life.