There are a lot of things to love about Texas, including breakfast tacos, beef brisket, and Lyle Lovett. When I was in Austin last week, Lyle Lovett stood behind me while I waited in line for beef brisket; my heart grew two sizes that day. But the loveliest thing about Texas is the fact that Texans love it so much.
Chesterton wrote, “Men did not love Rome because she was great; she was great because they had loved her.” The same is true of Texas. I have come to love the state my own self, but I must say, to a visitor from Tennessee, the glories of Texas are not self-evident. One suspects that in a place so beloved, there must be more than meets the eye. So one looks again, and glories begin to reveal themselves. As Richard Wilbur says, “What love sees is true.”
On my recent trips to Texas, I have often thought of the first chapter of Robert Farrar Capon’s Supper of the Lamb, in which he speaks of the value of the amateur–literally, the person who is motivated by love of a thing:
The world…needs all the lovers–amateurs–it can get. It is a gorgeous place, full of clownish graces and beautiful drolleries, and it has enough textures, tastes, and smells to keep us intrigued for more time than we have. Unfortunately, however, our response to its loveliness is not always delight: it is, far more often than it should be, boredom. And that is not only odd, it is tragic; for boredom in not neutral–it is the fertilizing principle of unloveliness.
In such a situation, the amateur–the man who thinks heedlessness a sin and boredom a heresy–is just the man you need… The graces of the world are the looks of a woman in love; without the woman they could not be there at all; but without her lover, they would not quicken into loveliness. There, then, is the role of the amateur: to look the world back to grace.
Texans are forever looking their dusty country back to grace, and it quickens into loveliness like the bluebonnets. God bless them for it. God bless Texas.