Monday, December 8, 2014

An Open Letter to Brave New Englanders

Dear New Englanders,

We've had a tedious relationship, you and I.

Back in college, I prayed for you often.  I prayed that God would stir up your affections for Him, that He would send workers to the harvest. I did not want to be one of them.

But when I heard clearly the call to move to this strange land, I suspected it might be one of the most exciting adventures of my life. Even though I often felt scathed by your expert sarcasm {which, let's be honest, mostly goes over my head} and although I wasn't sure how to interpret your skepticism about the new girl who moved from Tennessee, some of you quickly became dear friends.  As for those of you who held me at arms' length, I found your aloofness oddly endearing. You played hard to get, made me work for your friendship. And I'm a firm believer that nothing good comes easy.

More than five years later, you have won me over. I love your smarts and your spunk, your quick wit and your killer work ethic.  I'm warmed by your love of the created world and of adventure.  In spite of my prepster sentiments (not that I'm alone in those here), I have even come to love your granola men with their burly beards and your earthy-crunchy women with their Nalgenes in tow. {Heck, I even bought one myself, and I'm happy to report that I drink more water, thanks to you.}

Most of all,

you have charmed me with your incredible resilience in the face of tragedy, storm, and unthinkable human suffering. 

There is an image of you emblazoned on my mind from the morning after the formidable October snowstorm of 2011: Trees were down everywhere and most of the roads were closed as I tried to make my way to church, which of course had not been canceled. All was eerily still, except for you, young and old, out shoveling your driveways. As if your lives depended on it.

That was when—finally—I think I really understood you:

You are fierce because you have to be here.  

You set your face to the elements and press on.  

And two years ago, when the brightest December morning turned to darkest night, you refused to be undone. In the harshest winter storm of all, you have held your ground. Like those brave souls out shoveling October snow, you are picking up the pieces of unimaginable pain in the midst of what ought not be. 

You inspire me to be braver, unflinching, able to withstand the cold.

I am forever grateful for the example of your unyielding hearts. You make me proud to live in this foreign land. And I trust that God is using even this to draw you closer to Himself.