It’s a violation, we are all impacted, we are all feeling a sense of betrayal. The Mayor has little to add to the conversation, what can he say really? Another protest march against violence, what it will accomplish really? Tamar Jackson was interviewed on TV the day of the shooting spree. She expressed what many of us know to be true. That an entire generation is likely lost to violence. It is hard to say this. We don’t want to think it. As Christians it runs counter current to the idea of salvation and redemption. Read more…
The priest, in this case me, stand before the congregation at the end of worship to offer a blessing. By then many of the congregation are already checking out. You can almost see the cartoon bubbles popping up over their heads: “Where to have lunch?” “The choir was good today.” “What kind of socks are Stewart wearing today, and his t-shirt gotta check out his t-shirt.” So the minds of many wander. The traditional blessing given starts like this: May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of His son Jesus Christ and etc.
This is the story about a man who over the years has known greatness and brokenness; healing and revealing his passions. Some of you may have seen him around our community some maybe not. Read more...
I was raised in a “gentleman’s hunting” family. I likely killed more clay pigeons than I did animals, but I did kill animals and trapped them in the marshes that are now subdivisions in Mississippi and did the manly hunting camp thing for wood ducks etc. Whenever I shot an animal sometimes my response was a typical male 15 year old blood lust thing and sometimes sadness quickly covered up. Later in life, as a Veteran and while still in the Military, I was invited to hunt rabbits on a farm in New Jersey over dogs. I had not hunted over dogs and looked forward to showing my Yankee friends what a southern boy could do with a gun. So we hunted and with that rush of delight I was the only one that got a shot off and killed a rabbit. As I approached the rabbit it wasn’t dead. It squealed and kicked in pain. That was the last time I shot anything other than an occasional clay pigeon. Now I’d rather watch birds than shoot them (except maybe with a camera). I still own guns and still admire them. I still enjoy cleaning them and maybe someday I will shoot another clay pigeon. But other than that I have no use for guns outside of their historic value.
My daughter was an excellent marksman having won First Place in target competition at All Saint’s School in Vicksburg;. smart, good looking, switching from outlandish vibrancy to deep introspection. As parents and daughter the relationship often was a rocky one. She was always the risk taker. She was the rule breaker – for it was like a drug. Therapist after therapist worked with her; this was twenty years ago. Eventually, she ran away from home at age 17, it was the rush of the risk. Later, after trials and tribulations at home, she found a boyfriend and moved to a more rural area with her new found love of her life. Tonya, my daughter, was the definition of co-dependent and that came raging out within their relationship. Donny, her live-in boyfriend, was simply a good ol’boy and nice guy. He defined the Florida Parishes country folk. Three days before All Saints day Tonya called my wife and spoke sadly about “problems” that she and Donny were having. Vicki, my wife, soothed her and said that if she needed a break she could certainly come home that night and that she would be welcomed. The story later told was that she went back to “talk it out” with Donny; they sat on the bed and as he said, “I just don’t know if this is going to work” she replied, “I guess not” and quietly reached into the bedside stand drawer and pulled out the loaded pistol (kept for protection). I last saw her being wheeled in on life support to St. Tammany General Hospital. She was on life support in order to harvest her organs. Much later the diagnosis, which had gone untreated and certainly not explained to us, was bi-polar disorder. She could have been treated.
Mental illness, blood sport, bravado, time, place, circumstance, poverty, and altered states: all share at least this in common – guns kill quickly and irredeemably and are weapons of spontaneity that require no effort but to simply pull a trigger. I would estimate that about 97% of the names of the now noted “Murder Board” listing over 2,000 names are from gunshot.
I would think that after years as a Pastor at St. Anna’s and after years of working with so many people and doing so many wonderful things to fulfill our Lord’s directions that we might be know as something other than “The Murder Board Church.” As we approach the Season of Advent we are asked to consider with expectancy the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets in the person of Jesus. I would also suggest that it is a time and a season to consider an oft forgotten piece of Christian theology and understanding that of “Corporate Sin.” It would seem to me that the incarnation was necessitated. Necessitated by what? By a loving, forgiving, tolerate and eternally patient God who would go to any length even humiliation on the cross to set things right. So, we are “The Murder Board” Church. I wish we were the Medical Mission Church or the Anna’s Arts Church or the Oportunidades Church or the Food Pantry Church or the Church of Hospitality and inclusion. But no, it seems that in the public eye we are “The Murder Board” Church.
It is in the public eye that we are seen as such because it is sometimes ‘newsworthy’ but not so much those things that tend to stand over and against violence but rather we are known as a stark symbol of urban violence. It is “The Murder Board.” The Murder Board neither sings nor dance, it does not travel, nor does it have activity as an attribute. It simply is and stands alone with flowers adorning its base, a desecrated angel standing vigil, and it silently and sadly holds bold and sad testimony to the loss of human life. It is not active in the sense of physical movement but it IS active saying so much by simply naming. It is a mute reminder of profound loss. You can lose yourself when standing before it and contemplating its mysteries. Yes, mysteries. The ‘why’ mysteries are layered and dense. For some it may ask, “Who is to blame or what is to blame?” For others, “They lived that life and reaped what they sowed.” For others “It is in my face can’t we celebrate life?” Even for some it is seen as an attempt to get “good press” and in some way as a tawdry attempt at notoriety. Believe when I say that when I die I do not want to be known as “The Murder Board Priest” nor in sacred history to we want to be known as “The Murder Board Church” but rather the little church that offered hope, honesty, hospitality, and humanity to all who came to her.
The question we sometimes ask our selves at St. Anna’s is how long will we do this and to what end? A priest once asked me, “Do you really think it does any good?” Yes it does. For some it is the only memorial in a public place that says this “This son of mine once lived.” For some passing by it causes them to stop and if only for a moment to consider – maybe the state of the City, maybe their own mortality, maybe simply the profound sadness of loss. But this memorial is more than a “Murder Board” it is a memorial to victims. Everyone on that memorial is a victim either passively or actively so. An innocent child shot in cross fire is certainly a victim. But consider, what name there came into this world born to kill or be killed? What name there, in infancy wanted anything more than to be loved, respected, and enjoy what so many of us enjoy – a chance to simply live an adequate life?
The title of this BLOG is “he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” and it is from the prophet Jeremiah as the first lesson of Advent. This lesson anticipates a bringing into our world a force a messiah who seeks both justice and compassion (righteousness). Justice coupled with compassion does not tolerate murder and make excuses for it. It does, however, disrupt, disturb, and interfere with the forces that propel a child or family or even a culture toward a life of violence, retribution, and vengeance. There is a great old gospel hymn that says:
Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children,
Wade in the water
God’s a-going to trouble the water
Those troubling waters purified and sanctified the ones who entered it. What troubled waters are we as a culture, city, society, and church willing to enter to be purified, sanctified, and cleansed? Perhaps its “The Murder Board.” I believe that we are all , in some way, culpable for our urban holocaust. It is more likely as question of corporate sins of omission now-a-days rather than commission but sin none the less. What do we do not do rather than what have we done. How do we break the back of multi-generational violence, of generations of dependent families, of hopelessness, of this present darkness? No single answer will do. But do not be overwhelmed, what has begun and is can be undone and does not necessarily have to be. That is the virtue of the rivers of life and rivers of time. If we do not hope and do not act there is no hope and there is no answer. But if we continually hope, continually act, continually build a fortress against bigotry, poverty, hopelessness, helplessness, dependance, dis-empowerment, and rage – then we have more than a chance. Such requires tenacity and thick skin. Such requires not a flirtatious moment of compassion for compassion as part of our very self definition. So, we are the “Murder Board Church”, that from such an understanding, like the crucifixion, we move toward and are compelled to resurrection. We “wade in the water” through Anna’s Arts to disrupt poverty of mind, body, and spirit for little ones, medical intervention to prevent illness for the uninsured, Oportunidades to enculturate not ghettoize. “Wade in the water, God’s gonna trouble the waters.” The new Victims of Violence Memorial was installed on All Saints Day 2012 remembering over 1,200 human beings.
By The Rev. Bill Terry, Rector St. Anna’s Episcopal Church
Gobble gobble gobble! Turkey Day! The myth of Thanksgiving with Native Americans and Puritans at table together all in perfect harmony; well that didn’t seem to work out too well in the long run, did it? The myth of a just and loving society is equally as elusive, isn’t it? So, in this “just and loving society” what will you/we give thanks for? In my last article I brought attention to a man who could not see the blessings around him because of his own burdens which ate up his very spirit. There is certainly a lot to dislike, reprove of, and disdain in our community. Certainly many of these articles point toward desperate circumstances, exhort engagement in our broader society, and reprove the self absorbed and self serving. But, wouldn’t it be nice to just for a moment give thanks.
Thank you, Lord for this very day that I write where the winter southern sky is as deep and profound a blue as any ocean. It hangs above in resplendent color. Not the wisp of a cloud but just the breath of fresh air in a coolness that says all will be well. It is a good day to read outside in the sun but in the shade, a sweater is a must. Yes, a sweater perhaps an old style cardigan to play the part of an afternoon with nature sidled up with a cup of good hot English tea.
Thank you Lord for laughter and the gift of a smile and the warmth that it brings. I shaved my beard this week and a small child, one of Anna’s Arts kids that I see almost every day, looked at me so strangely and reaching out, rubbed my chin. She, with a smile, a giggle and yet stern eyes said, “It’s scratchy. But you know Santa’s coming and he has a beard.” No, it doesn’t have to make sense, it just is delightful. Or pants in a catalog called “ball room” pants and yes, it really did say extra large crotch for a comfortable fit. No, it really is in a workman’s clothing catalog. Thank you for the gift of humor and laughter.
Thank you for simple pleasures like corn bread made in an iron skillet. Thank you for a dark roux or dark beer or dark nights where the stars simply shimmer. Thank you for that small blue flower that pushes through the crack in the sidewalk that I see when I am looking at the ground, self absorbed and then, I feel better. Thank you for eccentric family members who have big hair, no hair, or comb over’s with plaid shirts and knee high socks.
Thank you for putting me in a city that takes time out for the silliness of Mardi Gras, Decadence, and Second Lines. Thank you for crooked streets, houses, and street lamps that make this a quirky little village. Thank you for balconies, draped with sweet potato vines and vegetables like mirlitons that grow in the back yard. Thank you for the occasional rooster that still runs the streets.
Thank you for dark, raging thunderstorms that passes in the night. Thank you for the fog that shrouds the city streets, that adds romance and mystery. Thank you for the calliope on a steam boat that echoes lightly in the noon day sun. Thank you for that furry friend dog or cat that is always around and always willing to put up with us. Thank you for a city that is many shades of brown, black, peach, pink, yellow, and red in the fabric that is our human race.
Thank you for good hearts and deep longings. Thank you for the gift that you have given us called love. Thank you for my grandmother’s thimble and the memories it brings. Thank you for friendships through hardships and good and bad times. Thank you for my life companion along the way.
This Thanksgiving I give thanks for all of this and more those things seen and unseen, for it is in the unseen through you that I know all things are possible. Thank you Lord my brother, my companion, my trusted friend, my God, and my eternal hope. Thank you for this Thanksgiving.
A Community within Communities: 1,000 Bones
By The Rev. Bill Terry, Rector St. Anna’s Episcopal Church
Bones, the last remains of life once lived. Bones, the vestiges of existence that carried the frames of men, women, and children and within those frameworks were housed tears, joy, hope, despair, the full range of humanness. Gay History month is part of these 1 Million Bones. There was a time, not so long ago, when medical treatment was withheld from Gay persons because of even the perceived threat of AIDS. There was a time when AIDS was a death warrant and the religious right said it was the condemnation of homosexuality. I recall a sign on I-12 that proclaimed AIDS as the hand of God. It remained the hand of God until straight men and women became infected, it remained the hand of God until the story of thousands of Africans dying because of AIDS. Then it was no longer the hand of God it became a pandemic and treatments were developed to combat its effects. 1 Million Bones.
The 1 Million Bones project was originally designed as a graphic art installation project that will be installed on the Washington Mall in 2013. The original intent and I suppose the current intent is to bring attention to genocide; specifically the genocide in Ethiopia and Sudan. But, as always, the project found its way to New Orleans as one of many project sites worldwide. In New Orleans it morphed. For us it is now about death by neglect (a form of violence), death by urban violence in our own city, AND genocide where ever it happens or happened.
Visiting Dachau Prison Camp the story of the extermination of Gay men and women if graphically told; programmatic extermination of Jews, Homosexuals, Gypsies, and anyone who did not fit in. So, it is that 1 Million Bones in New Orleans has come to be changed at least locally. It will tell a story.
This project invites people to make clay bones of all sorts. Any group can gather for a day of bone making. St. Anna’s Church in collaboration with several other groups including 1 Million Bones will send an artist to get the group started and supply the clay.
The bones will then be collected and installed at St. Anna’s Church from November 1-3 which includes All Saints and All Souls days. You, at your pub, at your Krew, at your circle of friends are invited to make bones and name them if you wish as memorials to those who have died of abuse, AIDS, social neglect, urban violence, write the names on the bones. If you cannot find a group: Anna’s Arts and the children will be making bones every Saturday starting at about 3 p.m. until the installation date. St. Anna’s congregation will make bones after Mass on Sunday October 7 you are invited and need not attend mass- we will start at about 11:45.
You will be invited to “lay the bones to rest in homage” on Thursday November 1 in the late afternoon. Our goal is to collect 10,0000 bones and do a massive art installation using most of the outdoor property of St. Anna’s Church campus. The bones will and installation will remain on site for the three days. Security will be provided for those that wish to come and contemplate, maybe pray, or simply to meditate upon the reminders of humanity 24 hours a day until 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Make a statement about the state of our human condition. Become connected to all of the loss, all of the sorrow, all of the hatred, and make a stand against it. It is a social issue that is greater than a community within a community. We are the community of the human race for better or worse. We want and MUST bring attention to our city of the violence and death that permeates every neighborhood. This is an ecumenical enterprise that invites Jew, Christian, Muslim, and secular humanists to make a statement.
Yes, St. Anna’s will host a traditional All Saints service at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday November 1st and along with the Litany of Saints we will name all of the murder victims in 2012. Yes, St. Anna’s will host a traditional All Souls service at 6:00 p.m. on Friday November 2nd naming the dead family members of St. Anna’s congregation and friends. A list is posted in the Parish Hall for those names. Saying the names, the Hebrew Bible teaches us that those persons still live in memory.
On Saturday the church will host an all day event that will include a preview of “Shell Shocked” about youth violence in New Orleans; talks by “The Lost Boys” of the Sudan and the genocide in the Kush Mountains; loss by Gay and Lesbian persons to AIDS; music by choirs and individuals featuring the Treme Community Choir it will be a day to take notice. So please, come out and take notice, just this one time help support your community church and your greater human community – make a bone, place a bone, honor 1 Million Bones as an homage to life itself.
If you or your group wish to participate and have an artist and clay delivered please contact Fr. Terry or Darryl Durham at 504-947-2121 or by e-mail at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Join us and remember.
A COLLABORATIVE PROJECT WITH ST. ANNA’S CHURCH &
Congregations and Artist in New Orleans and beyond
Dear Pastor and Rabbi:
As the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls fast approaches St. Anna’s Church in collaboration with The New Orleans Chapter of 1,000,000 Bones, Scrub Brush Productions, Freret Neighborhood Center, and several New Orleans Public Schools are preparing an art installation on the St. Anna’s Campus. We are seeking the support of your congregation for this vital and dramatic statement about violence. It is a project that will cost your congregation essentially nothing but a little time. It is a project that might help form small discussion groups while ‘doing art.’ It is a project suitable for children as well as adults as “artists.” It is a project first conceived by Naomi Natale which is now going global. The Bones project is supported by, among others, the McCune Foundation, The Harnisch Foundation, Students Rebuild, CARE, and VISTA. The point of the project is to bring dramatic attention to genocide throughout the world and by extension to the local murders in New Orleans. Philosophically and theologically this project seeks to bring attention on an international level and local level – “both and.”
As you know the murders in New Orleans seem ceaseless and it seems that we talk about effective solutions less rather than more. There is attention graphically in the news; out pouring happen when a “heroic” or “innocent” victim is shot. But then there seems to be a lack of galvanizing impact making movement. People like The Roots of Music, Anna’s Arts, All Soul’s Youth Programs, Dryades YMCA and others are addressing the issue in profound, practical, and brilliant ways. Silence is Violence is still in the mix as a voice against this present darkness. A cutting edge film by John Richie called, “Shocked: The New Orleans Youth Story” adds its voice to the mix and was featured in the Mayor’s first City-wide Summit on urban violence.
I am reaching out to each of you to help make a strong statement yet again about violence; BUT, not just our own urban violence but genocide both in New Orleans and the World. This is a project that can involve the very people we serve. The global impact, like our own experience with destruction, is a transient feature on the conscious landscape. By that I suggest that people have short memories. Do we remember and talk about Dār Fūr, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, Ethiopia or Nicaragua, or even the Holocaust?
I would like to extend an invitation to each Pastor and each worker in the field to gather a group who believe it is time to make another major statement and form groups that might spend a day or a weekend making bones. For us in New Orleans, some of the children have put first names on the bones as a remembrance of the victims in our city. That is a first for this national project. We would be happy to supply the over 1,000 names of murder victims that we have since 2007 to any church or group willing to participate. The 1 Million Bones people are happy to supply artist’s instruction for your group as well as offering a short talk about the project.
The Schedule is this:
On the afternoon of Thursday November 1 All Saints Day the artists will begin the installation. Persons who made the bones are invited to lay them out as a way of putting this holocaust to rest. Names for people who have died from Violence such as murder; or neglect due to withholding medical treatment (AIDS victims); those names are invited to be put on the bones. Our goal is an art installation of over 10,000 bones. At 6 PM perhaps 6:30 PM St. Anna’s will host an All Saints Day worship service and read the names (as we do every year) of each and every murder victim in 2012 and all participants are invited to attend.
On Friday, November 2 All Souls Day the installation will remain open as a “pilgrims” site for those that wish to come and remember. An All Souls Worship service will again be held at about 6:00 or 6:30 PM.
On Saturday November 3 a mini version (20 min.) of “Shocked: The New Orleans Youth Story” will be presented along with a brief workshop that is being introduced into some High School curriculum; poetry readings will he held; a concert by the Treme Chorus will be offered. And to you on this list we offer and extend an opportunity for your choirs to sing in concert. At about 4 or 5 PM the art installation (bones) will be removed and put into storage for future installation at the Washington Mall in 2013. During Saturday we also hope to hear from speakers representing genocide survivors from Africa and perhaps Latin America. If you are in contact with any “Lost Boys” or other genocide survivors please let us know as soon as possible.
√ St. Anna’s will provide 24 Security Guards for the project so that those who wish may safely visit the outdoor installation at any time day or night for the three days of the event.
√ St. Anna’s and the 1,000,000 Bones local chapter will arrange to have artists come to your church or venue to talk about the project and to get you started on making bones.
√ St. Anna’s will install ample space for people to make other faith memorials such as candles, mementos etc., to lay out and among the bones as a symbolic altar.
√ With your help we hope to promote this as a major spiritual and practical response to murders in New Orleans and beyond.
We are trying to put this together and to have it highly organized as quickly as possible. We would also accept and invite your suggestion for other participants so that the broadest cross section of New Orleans (and beyond) can be represented and have an opportunity to engage in this work. We ask you for no funds, we ask you for your prayers and participation. It is again time to make a noise about the killing of our youth and not only our youth but our citizens here and beyond.
When I visited Dachau Concentration Camp in the Spring of 2010 I recall vividly a solid granite ossuary that said in five languages “Never Again.”
PLEASE CONTACT EITHER MYSELF OR DARRYL DURHAM if you have any interest or have any questions about this effort to bring startling notice to our plight.
FOR INFORMATION OR TO SEE WHAT 1,000,000 is about go to : http://www.facebook.com/OMB.NOLA
Thank you in advance for reading this and considering the project. Your group, church, synagogue, will be listed in this collaboration and the media notified of these efforts.
The Rev. William H. Terry
Rector St. Anna’s Episcopal Church
1313 Esplanade Ave.
New Orleans, LA. 70116
E-mail: email@example.com or
Darryl Durham at firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: (504) 947-2121
I wanted to give you an update on the unit post Isaac. Your Mobile Medical Unit is parked at St. Anna’s and sustained virtually no damage. Having just gotten power back this Sunday we expect to be rolling later in the week. HOWEVER, that said there is some help, if you are so disposed, that we could us. THIS IS FR. TERRY, I’ve managed my way into Diana’s account at the church. As briefly as possible New Orleans fared Issac far better than Katrina but it still remains a major inconvenience. We all have them from winter ice storms to droughts. BUT there is one person who we all admired and owe an great debt to: she is selfless, works 12 hour days, she has kept this ship afloat when we thought all was lost; she is the church treasurer and she is the Director of the Medical Mission from day one. Diana Meyers, RN. A remarkable person. After Katrina she moved to a small town called La Place, LA. She drives an hour to work each day. She moved there because a house was available and affordable. She mostly moved there because her 82 year old father and 70′s mother Chuck and Zina moved there. Chuck and Z are ordinary working class folk living on Social Security and a very little savings. A cousin offered to rent them a house in La Place at a very reasonable deal. They had lost their home during Karina where they had raised their kids. That was hard on them. Lost almost everything. Even with this Category I slow moving storm La Place and a few other areas like Paradis were flooded. Power for 900,000 houses lost for three to four days. As I write this some 70,000 homes in the metro area are without power. All of that said, Church and Zina lost their house in La Place sustaining AT LEAST 4-5′ of water throughout. In fact as Church was leaving in the forced evacuation in two feet of water he stepped on a turtle in the living room…
Diana did not sustain major damage. But Church and Zina Haase did. Chuck has had triple bi-pass in the past year or so; Zina a heart attack some time back. The Haase-Meyers family are exhausted. A team from St. Anna’s church, about a dozen or so folk, are out there as I write starting to gut the house they lived in.Chuck and Zina had no flood insurance because they did not own the house and only recently discovered, too late, that such a product existed. So, as Pastor of St. Anna’s with hat in hand, I am asking for your support for this wonderful gifted woman, Diana, by donating Wal-Mart Cards, Home Depot Cards, Lowe’s Cards, or even as a big gift a Rooms to Go gift card or cash (note in donation line Haase). This Sunday, none prepared for this we collected over $1,000 in cash to help defray immediate expenses. They, at the age of 80 are starting all over again. Can ya give us a hand. Believe me we passed a collection this Sunday and we will keep doing so. If you send a Card or make a donation cash or otherwise it is Tax Deductible if made out to the church. Help us to help Church and Zina. We are a growing church but still to small to completely cover their debts; maybe I should say our debt to them. Finally, donations can be made on line by using our donation button on the Web site just note Haase Collection it is at www.stannanola.org also, if you have a chance visit our FaceBook St.Anna’s Open Group page and “like us.”
The church: roof damage and the usual (about $15,000 worth of damage) and we will handle that but we’d like to show our support for Diana by helping her Momma and Daddy as we say…Church and Zina.
Thank you so much. And may God bless you this day – Fr. Bill Terry+
You’d think we’d settle into a routine at about this time. The fact we might have but for that precious commodity electricity. One of the most memorable and impactful experiences that we have learned from Isaac’s wife Katrina is that during and particularly after the storm the degree to which life patterns are disrupted is relational to a sense of well being and safety. So, if the natural flow and rhythm of the City and her individuals is greatly distrupted, particularly on a large scare, tensions remain high and a sense of almost hopelessness enters into the picture even if the ‘disaster’ is relatively limited in its impact. I mean let’s face it after Katrina it would take one hell of a storm to even begin to compare. Yet, the anxiety, the stories of death, the stories of loss circulate and are very real.
When the Medical Van first appeared on the scene I wrote an article. “What is one life worth?” I tried to make the case that even though over $100,000 had been invested in this unit on its very first outing a life was saved; very likely many more since then. So now I’d like to make the case on a more personal note. “What is one house, one family, one life worth?” In this case I am talking about Chuck and Zina Haase. To say we are personal friends would be a stretch; I am very close friends with their daughter Diana who runs the Mobile Medical Unit, is the Church Treasurer, and is one of the most selfless humans I know. As Isaac bore down she was worried about payroll as much as she was about getting out safely. That just is how Diana is. Church caught the end of WWII, their family raised two boys and girl. Church and Zina got the educated and instilled in them a sense of duty, civil pride, patriotism, and above all it seems level headedness. The family has been at St. Anna’s for, best guess, five or more generations. Church worked his life as a shop foreman when New Orleans had a lot more heavy industry. They saved and had a nice home in Gentilly. That was washed away along with his album from WWII and Zina’s hope chest. Chuck has always been quiet about that event, he’d rather talk about fishing. Zina’s only response, with a sigh, was “I just thank God my children are safe – it’s OK.”
By luck they had a cousin, if you know that family the always “have a cousin.” Who owned some houses in LaPlace, LA. It is a nice subdivision so Diana, wanting to be close to Momma and Daddy, moved to La Place with them. Isaac came, only a Cat 1 storm. Zina got 3-5 ft. of water in her house. Diana we don’t know yet. The evacuated in the middle of the storm were transported to Baton Rouge and eventually, yesterday, found themselves at Diana’s brothers home in Metairie, with electricity. It will take time to figure out next steps – What we learned in Katrina is that we, the Church, volunteers, etc. can’t figure out what is best for them; they have to figure out what is best for them. So, we supporters quietly wait to see what they need and what we can do.
In the mean time, yea, things are nothing like Katrina. We can find a gas station opened here and there. Drug stores, mostly, are open. Why Vicki and I discovered and actually ate dinner out last night –Lebanese food; absolutely perfect! Yet, it is dark at night and throughout the neighborhoods you hear generators here and there punctuating the silence. Businesses are still down in many parts of the city. Civic anger is rising at the lack of electrical repairs going on; after this “ain’t no Katrina.” Less than 30% of the City has power, and a large part of Jefferson Parish (part of the metro area) has power. Now imagine 90+ degrees and being 80-90 years old; or being 6 or 7 years old. Boredom is a demon. Heat is a pervasive harbinger of anger. We are trying to stay cool and continue the clean up. The sounds of a few generators punctuate the urban landscape. Here it is again, our lives are disrupted, our patterns changed, and it has an impact.
So why do we continue to live here? How does the country feel about this only seven years after Katrina? If I were the rest of the nation I would be very tired of helping New Orleans. . . I guess. Hell, when Katrina hit parts of the country said, “Let it go they live in a swamp.” I can only imagine what those same folks are saying now. Yet, New Orleans deserves to exist and it deserves to receive some help as a part of the United States of America. Every bit as much help as mid western town receive when the Mississippi floods the great plains; or when a maga tornado wipes off a town in Alabama or Oklahoma. This city also contributes to the national good in strategic ways that some forget, quickly, it refines 10% of U.S. oil with some specialty refineries that aren’t duplicated. All that amber waves of grain are shipped through the port of New Orleans so it can be sold. Coal from the Midwest and West Virgina find their way here, again to be shipped out and sold. The Mississippi is still the central conduit for trade in the USA and New Orleans is the gatekeeper. Not to mention a history so rich that it rival Boston or New York or Chicago with richness and depth. It is a totally unique city in the USA. Do we really want to lose. But, yes, we get it . . . bail out again. We are tired of it as well. This time, it won’t cost nearly so much.
But the days after the storm, I believe, are the most sensitive. Broken life patterns, anxiety, tension, boredom, anger, sadness, and somehow in all of that, at least for a moment a true sense of community. Lots of people cooking lots of food before it goes bad means lots of neighborhood buffets …so far that’s life after Katrina…and yes, we will have mass this Sunday with or without electricity…