Published: 08 November 2012 09:40 PM
I love men from Texas. My dad is a Texan. My grandfather came to be a Texan. All my uncles are Texan. Some of the most important men in my life are Texan. They are strong, capable, kind, wise, funny, irreverent and reverent, dedicated and protective men. I rely on them. And they have not ever let me down.
I love my men from Texas, and I admit a prejudice toward their kind.
So I find myself at the end of my driveway in suburban New Jersey. It is Day Nine since Sandy passed through, and all around us trees are down and roofs are cracked. Not so far away, houses were ripped apart and people drowned in their basements and cars. For our part, my family only lost power. We had six trees down on our small lot, but the damage was nothing, given that my loved ones were safe and sound.
Still, on this particular morning, the storm had me down. I am a pastor of a sizable church and we had been focused on reaching our folks, making sure they were OK, finding them warm places to sleep. But when my feet hit the ice cold floor that day, and I had no breakfast worth eating for my kid, and I was standing at the end of my driveway surveying the damage, I hit my wall.
And then I saw them: two big, white service vehicles, one with a cherry-picker on its back, and two kindly drivers, waving and on the side of their trucks, spelled out in strips of black electrical tape, the word Texas.
Texas?! It struck me that the men and their trucks had come thousands of miles to be with us. It was 80 degrees last week in El Paso, my aunt said, and these men had left their own families and gorgeous weather to drive down our bleak streets. These men were working long days voluntarily, fingers cold and uncooperative, faithfully doing the work of restoring me and my New Jersey people to normalcy.
It changed my sense of what we faced.
It was Election Night when the men in Texas trucks started work on the rat’s nest of wires that had been torn down at the top of our hill. They had to install eight new telephone poles and string them before we could get power. However, knowing a storm was blowing in, they worked all night. At 1 a.m., as Mitt Romney was conceding to Barack Obama, these men from Texas brought back lights and power to me and a couple hundred of my neighbors.
I love men from Texas. They do not disappoint. They showed what it means to love and serve one another. For any who were watching, they also showed how we can reach across distance and difference — and all talk of huge divides aside — what it means to be a nation.
So hail the great men of Texas. May the best in them catch fire in us all.
Vanessa Rush Southern is the senior minister of the Unitarian Church in Summit, N.J., and the author of “This Piece of Eden.” Her email is Vanessa@UCsummit.org.