Dr. Don Newbury

"And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

These are the final 16 words of the 14th verse, fourth chapter, Book of Esther, King James version of the Holy Bible.

The scripture has been fleshed out to full sermon proportions countless times. It speaks to God’s impeccable timing and rarely has been so fitting for nature as well. God’s flowers, nodding by the millions in silent salute across the 60-mile stretch from Austin to Stonewall, beautified the good-bye trail for Lady Bird Johnson. A passion of this sweet-spirited former First Lady was promotion of wildflowers for Texas’ roadsides. The blossoms hung around extra-long this year, extending one of their best-ever seasons, perhaps for "such a time as this."

We can’t script growing seasons, or, for that matter, blow-outs. A bus carrying mourners blew a tire en route to the burial, and several cars in the cortege stopped to offer rides.

My guess is that plenty of folks pitched in to retrieve the tire remnants.

"Helping out" is a Texas tradition, particularly when folks need a ride and when smoking hot rubber is marring a patch of beautiful flowers….

Press coverage of Mrs. Johnson’s death was gentle, detailed and dignified. One account included her years-ago conversation about possible epitaphs. She opined that it would be fine if they stated: "Lyndon built four dams, and Lady Bird planted three trees."

The radio and TV guys failed to do their homework—or maybe they forgot—how Texans pronounce some words, regardless of their spelling. Most Texans know that we call it the "PERD-inales River," even though it is spelled "P-e-d-e-r-n-a-l-e-s." Some national news folks repeatedly called it "PEDDER-nales."

The Johnsons loved this river and the home place nearby. Soon after LBJ declared in 1968 that he would not be a candidate for re-election, it was clear that he wanted to retreat to the ranch. "The first year back home, I’m going to sit in a rocking chair on the front porch," he declared. "And if I enjoy it, the second year, I may rock." Alas, he didn’t get to sit or rock very long. He died at age 64 in 1973, just four years after leaving the presidency, and a month after the death of Harry S. Truman….

Renowned journalist Bill Moyers is fondly remembered as the President’s press secretary. Once he was asked about dealing with news people day after day, from early morning until late night.

It was, of course, a "can ‘til can’t" meat-grinder, like many Washington assignments.

He claimed a mantra that served him well. His was to "tell the truth whenever possible, but never lie."

Moyers came to mind when my wife and I stood in line at a popular new burger joint in Fort Worth. Oh, it wasn’t the hamburgers that made me think of him. I was reflecting on Lady Bird’s death. (I thought of the coincidence that both attended Marshall High School, albeit in different eras. She walked the stage in 1928; he in 1952.)

Upon entering the caf/, my wife nudged me, whispering, "That man behind us is a minister." I asked, "Do you know something I don’t?" This time, she was particularly adamant about total reliance on intuition.

I turned to the man, asking the obvious: "Are you a minister?"

He gave a "sorta/kinda" answer. His name is Benjamin Roy Chamness. I’d call Dr. Chamness a "preacher’s preacher." He’s been pastor of numerous Texas churches, but now they call him "Bishop Chamness." The Central Texas Conference he serves includes more than 300 churches in one of Methodism’s largest geographical areas.

I give my wife an "A+" for intuitiveness. There are only four other Methodist bishops in Texas, but he was the only one in the hamburger line Saturday night.

Bishop Chamness, who has served in virtually every ministerial role, re-defines humility. He’d prefer being called a "good ole’ boy" from Carthage. He married the former Joye Stokes, a Henderson gal, 47 years ago. With sparkling eyes and a ready smile, she looks like a preacher’s wife. They have two sons, six grandchildren, and love hamburgers….

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Send email to: newbury@speakerdoc.com Phone: 817-447-3872. His website: www.speakerdoc.com