Very few things make me home sick.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a great family and love them dearly and whole-heatedly love where I am from. I think I was born and raised in one of the most beautiful places on this earth. Yes this view is limited since I have yet to see so much of this spectacular world we live in but I believe I could travel for a year and still think that New England ranks up there with the Mediterranean coast, Alpine villas or Asian paradisaical beaches. The history of the freedom trail though Boston, driving through Franconia Notch in October or the quaint fishing villages tucked neatly into the rocky coast of Maine– there is nothing quite like these – but I have wings not roots and rarely do I long to be back there.
So what is the exception?
The post season. No, it is more the whole season of most sports.
For some reason, even if I am around other New Englanders, I long to be back home when I’m watching my boys play – whether that’s the Bruins, Sox or Patriots. I think it is because New Englanders are gifted with a strange, sometimes delusional, faith that knows that “it’s never over ‘til it’s over.” The funny thing is, most of the time this theory isn’t irrational. What other town will have full confidence to come back after being down three games to the Yankees in a best of 7? What other town will stick around in game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup down by 3 goals with less than 9 minutes left? What other town will believe that sure two separate 2 TD deficits are albeit a minor complication but never insurmountable. Other cities may look at our fans and say we are irrational but we live out of a faith based on what we have seen.
Sure it doesn’t always pay off. Sometimes Pedro stays in an inning too long or we lose to the Hawks at home after being up 2 goals with 17 seconds left on the clock or we drop a perfect season in the Super Bowl –and these are just the recent heartbreaks. Our history is full of them. In those times though, the support group I want to be with, the ones who will understand the reason it hurts so much is because I believed with everything in me, are my fellow New Englanders who mourn alongside me.
It is, at the end of the day, just a game and the fact that after almost 30 years I still have a hard time saying those words does not make them any less true.
It is just a game and this community I have flown myself into is a support system through the parts of life that really matter. It is a community that also possess an insurmountable faith but it is not in the athletic ability of a group of men. It is in the Creator of the Universe, the Creator of me and the Creator of you. It is a faith not based on things seen but unseen because we know that we can boldly urge one another to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). As much as I love Bergy, Pedy and Tom – men disappoint. Men fail. Friends, family, sports heroes whomever they may be, the only one who I can put my faith in is Jesus my Lord and Savior “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). My salvation and my identity are defined in my God and I thank him for bringing me into a community that understands and shares that faith.