Winter Makes Neighbors Out of People

I grew up just beyond the reach of the Lake Erie snow belt. I dreaded winter so much that I could make myself shiver just thinking about it - a handy trick on long, muggy August afternoons. I dreaded winter so much I wouldn’t even let myself enjoy the glories of autumn. Instead of seeing beauty in the red and golden leaves, I braced myself for the slow descent into chilly misery. My family barely dabbled in winter sports, so I didn’t even have the thrill of sledding to buoy me through until springtime. I stayed in-state for college, torn between wanting a warmer climate and wanting to be close to my parents. After four years of scraping ice from my windshield and scheduling my classes according to how far I’d have to venture out onto the frigid campus, my graduate school discernment process was a breeze.

So it was that a few weeks after our July wedding, my husband and I set westward for sunny Southern California. I’d visited the seminary in February, and been transfixed by the novelty of gazing up at the mountain snowpack while wearing a light jacket. I was thrilled to be out of the grinding Midwestern cold for good. But when we pulled up to campus, exhausted from our cross-country road trip, the mountain range wasn’t there. Granted, I hadn’t grown up around mountains and was therefore unaccustomed to their nuances, but I was relatively sure that mountains did not pick up and move. Had someone at this seminary put their mustard-sized faith to the test, and triumphed? As I squinted at the blank, hazy sky where I knew they’d been, I could make out a faint outline of Mount Baldy, all but obscured behind a veil of thick smog.

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