The Institute for Spirituality and Health
Exploring the connections between spirituality and health.


Spirited Words

See below for a collection of reflections, writings, essays, poems, and other contributions that the ISH community has submitted over the years. We hope you enjoy.

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Forbes Designates Houston the “Coolest” City in Nation

By John Graham

July 28th, 2012

I must say I was surpised to read that Forbes Magazine named Houston the “Coolest” city in the nation.  Hang your heads Austin, San Francisco, and San Diego.  The reason this hit home to me was when I moved from Austin to Houston fifteen years ago, all our friends in Austin said, “Oh, poor things.  Sorry about that.”  We headed to Houston thinking this was going to be a bad experience.  But, when we arrived we felt immediately at home.  My wife and I loved the neighborhoods with beautiful trees.  I loved living in a big city with major league sports — MLB, NBA, NFL, now Soccer.  We loved Houston restaurants which are always listed in the top three or four in the nation. And, for the last fifteen years, we have loved being part of our church, St. Martin’s Episcopal.

Okay, I confess.  I do miss the hills of Austin and the surrounding Hill Country.  I admit I loved being able to take just a few minutes to drive up to Mt. Bonnell to look over Austin Lake and the vista spread out in every direction.  It is great anytime of the day but especially when watching the sunset.  Absolutely beautiful.  Okay, Houston is flat as a pancake.  And, okay, Houston has high humidity — all the time — and Austin doesn’t.  But, Houston is only an hour drive from Galveston and the ocean. 

My wife and I have really enjoyed staying in Harbor Inn and watching the great cruise ships coming and going.  Eating on the wharf, checking out Moody Gardens, walking along the beachfront.   Okay the water is not aqua green-deep blue and the sand is not white like in Destin, Florida.  Still, Galveston has its own charm.  Guido’s is a great place to eat sea food, but it is not alone, there are many great restaurants.  Not to mention the fun of strolling down Strand street and visiting Trinity Episcopal Church to see the beautiful stained glass windows by Tiffany.  Awesome.  And, in June every year there is a Sand Castle Contest on the beachfront which is special every year.  We won’t miss it.  

It was fun being in Houston when the NFL SuperBowl game took place.  I was pleasantly surprised to see they spent an entire week with great bands, food, and entertainment.  Can’t wait for the SuperBowl to come back to Houston.  Then too, all year long there are ethnic gatherings with food, dance and music appropriate to that unique culture.  And, that brings up the diversity of Houston’s population.  We are a city with one-third Caucasion, one-third African American, and one-third Hispanic.  And more than that, we are a true melting pot with people from all over the world — from Vietnam, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and every middle eastern country.  Houstonians are Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and you name it — we have it.   A true cosmopolitican city, enriched by people of every tribe and kindred.  And, that is a blessing.

I haven’t even mentioned the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex on earth.  Seven major hospital complexes each with multiple buildings for specialities and Fifty-two major institutions.  Just when you think

Houston is a great city.  I knew it from the moment we arrived.  Still do.  But it is not terraine that makes a city great.  It is not tall buildings or having a championship team in sports.  No, it is people that make a city great and I have found the people of Houston to be very caring.  If there is a more philanthropic city than Houston, I don’t know it.  Houston is a wealthy city and it is a city that reaches out to the homeless and the underserved in every category you can imagine. 

I learned this when I was on the Board of Directors of the Episcopal Health Charities.  There we received requests from non-profit organizations to help them do their great work.  Groups like Lord of the Streets, Star of Hope, Interfaith Ministries, and MacDonald House.  Groups interested in providing a place for homeless children while their mother is at work so they can evenually rent an apartment to live in.   Groups providing music, art, and dance lessons to challenged children.   On and on the list goes.   Hundreds if not thousands of groups at work to meet the needs of all the people who reside in Houston. 

Yes, I think Houston is a great city.  Even a “Cool” city to live in.   Well, maybe we are not cool in the midst of the summer.  Yes, we are.  Houston is “Cool” even then. 

Check out the Forbes Magazine story HERE.

Sara Moore