I was hanging my hammock between two trees just south of Christ the King Catholic Church in Sunray, Texas on a Saturday evening in late June when Deacon Wayne Norrell drove up. Worn out from riding over 80 miles on a sunny, summer day with temperatures near 100 degrees, I had given up on the idea of making the 25 mile ride to Dumas and a motel; however I was expecting the worse as I approached the deacon’s car and he asked me what I was doing.
I explained that over the last several weeks I had undertaken a bicycle pilgrimage to all the parishes in the Diocese of Amarillo, and that I had hoped to sleep on the parish grounds of Christ the King before riding the final leg tomorrow. I then paused and waited for the response to which I had grown accustomed , “I can’t let you do that.”
However Deacon Norrell simply replied, “Would you like to see the Church?” He pulled out his keys like a doting granddad pulling out a wallet filled with pictures of the grandkids, and unlocked the doors of the Sanctuary while telling me about his parish. We spoke for about half an hour and before he left he told me that he would leave the back door of the hall unlocked in case I needed water or the restroom.
I never saw or spoke to Deacon Norrell after that, but it would be gravely remiss of me to not recall the respect he showed me that evening. His hospitality revived a sense of dignity that had suffered much at the hands of others in power in the Diocese of Amarillo.