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Boston at Christmas: Beauty, History, and That New England Frankness

Boston at Christmas: Beauty, History, and That New England Frankness

I'm grateful for the way my city has nourished my art and imagination.

At this time of year, as we move toward year's end and enter Advent once more, I find myself filled with gratitude to the founders of our nation and for the sacrificial way Bostonians over the centuries have attempted to provide the best in art and education for our citizens and visitors from around the world. I hope Christianity Today's readers can find their way here and experience firsthand the New England spirit, so perfectly expressed by one of its most famous residents, Emily Dickinson:

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant---
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind---

And the citizens of Boston are in fact truth-tellers, as my early experiences here proved. When I first moved here from South Carolina, I was initially shocked by New Englanders' forthrightness and even apparent rudeness. I have come over the years to treasure the honesty and "what you see is what you get" spirit.

I never have to guess where I stand in New England.

Like the great granite boulders here, left behind by glaciers more than 20,000 years ago, New Englanders are sturdy and immovable (and a little hard!)—which explains why they led us to independence from our colonial masters in 1776. I count myself blessed to dwell here among the rocks and rivers; the ocean and ancient hills, upon several of which Boston is built. As Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop wrote in 1628, we are meant to become "a model of Christian charity and a city upon a hill."

May it be so.

Bruce Herman is a painter and professor of art at Gordon College, where he is currently Lothlorien Distinguished Chair in the Fine Arts.

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