Feb 5, 2007

Grow Where You Are Planted

New York City is where we were married. I have an affinity towards a Coney Island Nathan's hotdog, 0rangeade and potato knishes smeared with deli mustard. Chestnuts don't seem quite right unless they are served piping hot out of a brown paper bag from some guy standing on a corner and the Atlantic seems to fit me somehow. I have fond memories of seeing Lady Liberty from my backseat window everyday as we commuted over the Verazanno and of knowing that the Twin Towers would always mark the skyline. Later on, when we moved further away...out of the boroughs...across state lines...it was normal to pass by a doe and her fawn drinking from a pond...or to read the barely readable names of Revolutionary War-time families on backyard, moss covered tombstones. The mile long country road which started at my bus stop...was lined with centuries old, grown over, hand stacked, stone walls on either side... and led to my Connecticut Yankee home situated on a secluded cul de sac where not a city light shone...and the moon was hardly visible due to a canopy of lush foilage.
L.A. is where we owned our first home...a 1928 remodel with an art deco fireplace right off of Crenshaw... and had our first baby. Bradley feels peace at the beach. It's where he, his brother and his mom would spend their week-ends after the divorce. It's where we got to know eachother better... one Saturday morning...early in our relationship...on the sand...talking for hours...under the cliffs of Malibu. The scent of salt water...the thick, morning haze which burns off in the afternoons, the Santa Monica Pier...to him, the Pacific seems right...like a fit. Much like the San Fernando Valley does...with houses built in the seventies...a bit run down now...and maybe smaller than remembered...but still filled with families and their dreams. In L.A., it was a Carney's hotdog and chili-cheese fries...eaten at 2 a.m. on your way home from some club on the Sunset Strip...or climbing the Hollywood sign on the week-ends to spray paint your name above the City of Angels...or so you could just say you did it while high-fiving your friends. It was where you and they were the characters in "Valley Girl", "Less Than Zero", and "The Breakfast Club" without even realizing it.
Russia...the land of onion dome churches and age segregated rooms in run down places. The location where dogs growled and snow covered the ground. Where things are now foggy and far off...like Kazakhstan...distant memories of yearly national costumes...dances and music...of playgrounds covered in broken glass...discarded needles and orthodox nannies with orthodox orphans...Muslim nannies with Muslim orphans...hurriedly passing each other in the dark, stinking hallways while smiling in their different languages. Both places introduced two girls to their parents..Bradley and I.

Arizona is where we live life now...us and our five kids......amongst mountains, blooming cacti, coyotes howling over jackrabbit feasts...javelinas on the driveway...double rainbows and summer monsoons that take our breath away. There are hikes and snake holes...bob cats creeping along the backyard fence and tarantulas caught between the screen and its door.... jogs through the saguaros...rattlesnakes on the front doorstep...scorpions in the closet and wild mustangs at sunset...but no beaches.

Does where we spend our time affect our leanings and affinities? Of course it does. Does He have a purpose in placing us where He does when He does? Of course He does. Is it an accident that I love learning about history, Ellis Island, our wars and all things nostalgic? That I am thrilled and mesmerized with black and white images of days long ago? That I see the world as a melting pot of stories? No, I don't believe so. My placement has contributed to His purposes for my life.
Is it an accident that Bradley breaths a deep sigh of recognition whenever he merges onto the 1O and heads west? Of course not. That place represents what could have been for Bradley. What might have been for his broken family. What might have been for his dreams. It represents all his happy memories too. It is the home of film...a strong passion of his... born and nurtured in the place where he came from.

If I had been born and raised on Kauai...would my passions be different? If He had placed me on an island in the middle of the ocean ...might I love the sea and all its creatures? Might I have a heart for surfers and a longing to share with them? Possibly. If Bradley grew up in Sudan, might he have a desire to fight back, stay and rebuild and... preach in the surrounding refugee camps? Possibly. The thing is...the Lord places people all over His creation so that they might live out His will for their lives.

How will He use Arizona in our lives and the lives of our children? I do not know. But I know He will. He is an intentional, strategic and purposeful Father who sees the larger picture and wants to fit us into it. May He use our histories and current circumstances to glorify Himself any way He sees fit. May we grow where we are planted and be willing to let Him uproot us any time He sees fit.