[My apologies for all the grammar and puncuation mistakes. I have a massive headache and do not have the energy to focus on this for very long.]
For 43 years the City of New Orleans had undergone one of the greatest regional tragedies to date. Despite being wiped clean when the city was nearly burned to its foundations, attacked during wars, famines, yellow fever epidemics , flooding from the Mississippi, several major hurricanes: Camile, Betsy, and Katrina, none of these caused as much heart ache for the the gulf coast region as the once had to love Saints (or Aints, as they were called during their less favorable years.) Gone are the days when paper shopping bags double as hoods for the fans - shameful to show their public loyalty to the saints less they be scorned. Gone are the days when Saints tickets could not be given away unless you greased your friends palm with a crisp twenty for refreshments. Gone is "Next Year", "We'll get 'em next year", for "Next Year" is this year.
What lessons can a person learn from the 43 years that the Saints and their fans spent in their own exodus wondering as they wandered when they would enter the promise land and lift high the Lombardi trophy? Lots.
1. Though 43 years in wilderness feasting on the scraps of others, entry into the promise land is sweet. There is no promise land without first the wilderness aimed at testing and challenging the team, the fans, the region. It reminds that there is no Easter Sunday apart from Good Friday.
2. Redemptive is the suffering that happened for 43 years. Those who allow suffering to be and just be without any meaning associated with it, without any goal in sight, with out learning something from their suffering might not understand this. Though suffering for 43 years each season the management, the team, and the fans learned something, though what they learned sometimes seemed contrary to where they wanted to go.
3. Dedication. Perseverance. Commitment. It would have been very easy for the Owner of the Saints to drop trow and high tail it out of New Orleans to a more promising land -- after all, New Orleans isn't exactly the ideal economic machine like some of the other cities NFL teams call home. This was especially true the year after Katrina when San Antonio was trying to court the Saints into moving to Texas.
4. Unity. This one is missed unless you experienced it first hand. After the game, the best celebration happened. It wasn't the best due to the copious amount of liquor. It was the best because for just a few hours race, gender, age, wealth, upbringing, what kind of job you had, the car you drove, the section of the city you live in, and where you went to high school didn't matter. Everyone was a Who Dat. Perhaps a bit idealistic, but could this have been a small, though some what misguided, example of heavenly realities? Perhaps. A unity here that crosses all boundaries.
In a perfect world the energies and lessons found here would be appropriately applied to not only finite things but also to eternal. Dedication not only to the New Orleans Saints but also to the communion of Saints. Though difficult, suffering can be turned into a good, a lesson. Unity and love expressed not only because your horse came in, but because you see in every person and every culture a child of God.