Rebecca and I were able to enjoy one of her days free from optometry with a trip to San Antonio; only an hour or so south of Austin. Unintentionally, we picked a picturesque day: 64, sunny, cloudless, no breeze. I had been worried that we would be freezing (in Texas, that means 30’s and 40’s… brrr, right?) as the temperatures hadn’t been promising the week leading up to our trip. But the morning of, after sleeping in and not rushing into things, we were pleasantly surprised to find a warm, promising day waiting for us.
After a quick drive–though not without its events as I was almost side-swiped by a distracted driver in a huge SUV–we parked in downtown San Antonio close to the riverwalk.
The riverwalk was beautiful, shops and restaurants nestled next to the San Antonio river with the downtown buildings and trees reaching into the blue sky above.
We enjoyed lunch at a Mexican restaurant, sitting alongside the river watching people, ducks, and, surprisingly, dogs–there were quite a few dogs out and about, most with owners close behind. We savored the relaxation and time together.
After walking some and poking around a few shops (looking at things we can’t afford), we headed over to the Alamo for a look-see. We walked through the church and took in some military history about the 18th and 19th century in Mexico/Texas/US. I was fascinated by the chronicle of events and the various social forces at work in the story of the Alamo: evangelization, immigration, independence, republicanism, heroism, etc… I learned a lot (well, relatively speaking since I knew/remembered practically nothing) about this beloved Texan symbol of courage and freedom.
Rebecca was enjoying the warm weather and took some time, while I continued to read some of the public postings about the Alamo, to soak up the sunshine on a nearby bench. I found her almost asleep, relaxed and resplendent.
We decided to use the remainder of our afternoon following the Mission Trail out to a cluster of missions on the southside of San Antonio. So we hopped in our car and drove about 15 minutes toward Mission San Francisco de la Espada (all the while wishing we had brought our bikes to enjoy the weather and the ride). But before we arrived, I noticed a sign for another site, related to the missions, that I did not know would be on our way: Mission Espada Aqueduct. If I remember correctly, this is the only working, historical, US aqueduct in existence. It diverted water from the San Antonio river to irrigate fields managed by the nearby mission. In order to accomplish this, however, the water needed to flow over another stream, which is why the ancient aqueduct strategy was employed. Rebecca decided the arches needed some help carrying all the water.
After marveling at the structure, we visited de Espada, drinking in the beauty and architecture of the mission. A monk sold glass-wear on the premises, next to the church, which we loved (though, again, couldn’t afford–one day, though!).
There were some amazing, simple crosses at each of the missions which drew me into a spirit of contemplation and meditation. Though we were not without a schedule, the short time at each mission was calming and rejuvenating.
We finished the trip to San Antonio by visiting my New Testament and Christian Literature professor from Centre College–who is now at Trinity University in San Antonio. We enjoyed a delicious meal with his family and became better acquainted with his two children, whose energy was explosive and whose affections were adorable.
Our day was not without much learning, some nice relaxation, rich fellowship, and a good many laughs. In fact, I had to cover my mouth when I stumbled upon this notice in one of the mission churches–I don’t think it would be a prudent pastoral move to push for this in the congregation I come to serve. But it does make for good ending to this post.