The noise of unoiled door hinges told everyone in the Linnet’s Wings Ranch House that I was late.
I looked around apologetically, but no one seemed to mind, judging by an older man in the back row acknowledging me with a nod and soft smile. The 45 men in the room, from preteens to retirees, most heads topped with beanies or ball caps, were engrossed in the man leading the devotional at the front of the room. The background of the people in the room was mixed, geographically, ethnically, and financially.
These were the Iron Men of God, an assortment of men’s church groups hailing from Dallas to Dilley to Corpus Christi.
Joe Quintanilla, the retreat coordinator, stood up to thank the man who gave the devo and talk to the group about the day ahead. Joe told everyone they would carve walking sticks for the next activity, and he called everyone’s attention to an older man sitting near the windows, who held up his smooth and weathered stick. Exclamations—“Wow!” “Look at that!” “Ooh, that’s nice…”—bounced around the room.
Joe began to make his way outside to make room for John Kerr to give a quick orientation. I followed him to introduce myself, but Joe stopped, smiled, and shook my hand. He called the room to attention before John Kerr took over.
“This is Brother Steven,” Joe said. “He’s here to tell a story.”
Then Joe invited me to stay the whole weekend with them, and while still in front of the room, pointed me to a man named John Wranosky, saying John had a long history with the Canyon. After the orientation, I sat down with John Wranosky.