Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Back From the Big Easy

I am just back from New Orleans.
I did not "officially" go as a voluntourist. Instead I went as a tourist to a region that is starved for our support of one of its most viable industries, post Katrina and post-BP scare-tourism.Don't forget them. NOLA is the town that needs all of the little towns and they need NOLA. I went to stay full freight and eat in restaurants that still serve clean seafood. BTW, to enjoy the first vacation that was not about transporting our teenaged children since starting seminary- they are in the South Pacific. That may be another blog.I've much to say about my internship ending but I actually am more compelled to talk about NOLA.
Pictures are posted here under my photos. I feel it imperative to debunk myths.First, one that shocked me more than anything else, one I heard at my exercise class as I pondered the viability of my upper arms in sleeveless tops- "What difference does it make? It is a city that is nothing but fat black people with their hands out." This statement made by a "well-educated" person was like a cold hard slap in the face. For the record, while there are "fat lazy people" everywhere of all stripes, they are not unique to NOLA, nor are they the norm. I met wonderful, diverse people who long to be in a world not in peril, who fear and mourn the loss of culture and way of life and yet are vibrant and joyful. And for the record, are not those so-called "misfits" to the extent they exist, the people we are called to care for and lift up? I think Jesus said so. Second NOLA and its coast are still free (pending Hurricane Alex) of the effects of oil= beautiful shrimp, crawfish are to be had. And for those who imagine NOLA on the coast= it is 100 miles upstream. While we are at it- there is outstanding art, jazz bursting forth and a teaming array of people who desire us to remember them and come to share with them.
Thirdthe remnants of Katrina are not gone, but there is much to support and celebrate here. As people feel their very cultural context threatened can we not do more than just mourn it's loss? My husband and I found a wonderful B & B which you can see HERE We had a wonderful stay and found many ways to appreciate the tapestry that is NOLA. So, in short, as we all contemplate what it means to live out mission, let us not forget that sometimes there are work trips and sometimes there are times to help our brothers and sisters celebrate who they are, where they are. Celebrate with St Augustine that has defied an order to close post-Katrina. Celebrate with the musicians and artists who long for you to see their life's work. Come y'all.