This Pastor’s Viral Poem About Houston Says Harvey’s ‘No Match For A City Of Such Life’

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By Becky FogelAugust 30, 2017 12:09 pm| ,

Jeremy Rutledge was headed to church this past Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina, where he is the senior pastor at Circular Congregational Church.

“On my way to church, I was getting texts from cousin,” he says, “and they were getting worse and worse. They were moving furniture up to the second floor – and then they decided they needed to leave the house to be safe and go stay with friends who were in a higher place.”

Rutledge’s cousin lives in Houston, along with other family and friends. Houston is also where his grandparents hail from, where his mother grew up, and the city where he was a minister for 10 years.

In total, he lived in the city for about 15 years.

“Like a lot of people who have lived in Houston or who have family and friends there watching from far away, it was so hard to watch,” he says. “And I wanted to be there and I wanted to be helping, ya know ­– you don’t know what you can do from far away.”

But Rutledge’s decided what he could do was pen a love letter to Houston, and share it with those confronting the disaster wrought by Harvey.

At first he sent the poem to a few friends – but after posting it on Facebook on Sunday, it went viral. As of Wednesday, it had received at least 5,000 likes and 3,500 shares.

Rutledge stresses that this is merely one person’s view of such a big and diverse city and that while the poem is for Houston, it’s also meant to honor what people are experiencing throughout the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana.

Listen to Rutledge read “If You Want To Pray For Houston” below.

if you want
to pray for Houston
you have to pray
in her way

pray like Beyoncé
when she was
at HSPVA
or Billy and Dusty
shooting pool
at Rudyard’s

pray like you’re
sitting over soup
at Spanish Flowers
or pho at Mai’s
steaming your glasses

pray like the kids
playing soccer
on the east side
or mutton busting
at the livestock show

pray like the runners
in Memorial Park
lacing them up
or the researchers
in the medical center
looking into microscopes

if you want
to pray for Houston
you have to pray
as quietly as
the Rothko Chapel
or Houston Zen Center

and you have to pray
as loudly as
the old scoreboard
at the Astrodome
after a José Cruz
home run

you have to pray
sitting under
a live oak tree
or standing next to
an azalea bloom
while your skin
clams in the heat

if you want to pray
for Houston
you have to pray
without pretense
this ain’t Dallas
and in a neighborly way
as friends come out
to check on each other
in the rain
and those
who are far away
watch screens
and wipe our eyes

if you want to pray
for Houston
raise a bottle of Shiner
to the gray sky
and say that 130 mile an hour winds
and 9 trillion gallons of rain
are no match
for a city of such life
and diversity

you can fill up our bayou
but you will never rain
on our parade


A couple of duck boats normally used to haul tourists around Austin have been repurposed to help with Harvey relief efforts.

Austin Duck Adventures has suspended operations while two of its three amphibious vehicles are being put to use in Houston.

Robert Geller is one of the co-owners of the company.

He says a FEMA contractor reached out Monday to see if they could send down their duck boats. And now, “they’ve been used to ferry medical supplies and surgical supplies from the greater Houston area down to Galveston,” Geller says.

So far, the duck boats have not been used to rescue anyone but each could hold up to 45 people if needed.


A school board in San Antonio has voted to change the name of a school honoring a Confederate general.

Board members for the North East Independent School District voted unanimously to rename Robert E. Lee High School on Tuesday.

Catalina Rocha is a senior at the school and one of the students who led efforts to change the name.

She told Texas Public Radio “I think it’s important to make sure students are in an environment that is safe and promotes positivity.”

A new name was not decided at the meeting.