So no one has blogged in awhile, I suddenly felt inspired. I was telling some of my friends about our annual NOLA trip, when i realized something.
I have aspirations.
That may sound out of place, or obvious, I mean, we all have aspirations. What I mean by that is, I had a realization of the person I hope to become. So, I know I’m rambling, and I’m not thinking this out before I right, but this really does have to do with New Orleans.
What I realized is that I want to be like the ladies we’ve worked with in New Orleans. I know everyone has said this before, but today it struck me as a true goal. Ladies like Miss Dot, Miss Doris, Miss Joyce, and Miss Camille have such a love for life. Loving life is something that so many people forget to do. Living in the moment, and enjoying what you have is a thought which is so often put aside in out consumerist society. The ladies we work with see themselves as blessed. Blessed to be alive, blessed to be (mostly) healthy, blessed to be in the presence of those they love. As a result of this view of life, they are happy. Their lives are dotted with moments and years of suffering and hardship, yet that’s not how they view it. They look to the future.
Another reason I aspire to be like these women whom we love, is because of their love. They were willing to trust us, open their doors and get to know us, not as volunteers, or teenagers, or Seattlites, but as human beings, worth no more or less than their beautiful selves. They taught me that no matter what, there is always room in my heart to love more. Their levels of love, compassion and hopefulness are off the charts to be cliche. It constantly amazes me, and instills in me a sense of awe and wonder when I imagine being in their position. They all are such strong accomplished women who have so much to be proud of. Yet, they are some of the most humble, selfless people I’ve ever met in my life. To quote what many people from the trips have said, when we go down to help, we get more from them than we give. It is immeasurable the amount that these women have changed my life, and yes, I know I’m being corny and whatever else you want to call it, but its true.
As I looked at Lily’s pictures of Miss Dots garden, and Miss Doris’ house, another chord inside me was struck. Of course I felt the happiness of the (almost) complete Miss Doris’ house, but at the same time made me wonder. If we, a bunch of sometimes immature, inexperienced teenagers from the opposite side of the country cares enough to change the life of someone like Miss Doris, why can’t everyone else. If only everyone else cared a little bit more, had a little bit more compassion for those around them our world would be so much better off. I guess the point of this blog is not to be depressing, talking about how people of the world have failed, but rather, to remind us all to be role models to those people in society who resist helping others, who are selfish, and think of only themselves. Let us be reminded of the ladies in New Orleans, and use them as an example of the people we should all aspire to be like. Imagine if the world was filled with Miss Doris’, Miss Dot’s, Miss Joyce’s and Miss Camille’s…. I for sure know, that’s a world I would love to be a part of.
I dont know if anybody knew this but I happen to be going down to New Orleans with a group from my school, Providence College, in January. This past weekend I went on a retreat with my group. Our focus is not just the post-Katrina issues in New Orleans, but also the social issues of New Orleans that began before Katrina and were exacerbated by the storm as well as other things. My leader read this one letter from “One Dead in the Attic” which is basically a day to day journaling of the months immediately following Katrina by a Times-Picayune columnist named Chris Rose. It is called New Orleans Letter to America. It reminded me so much of the ladies we have helped and of New Orleans, so I thought I’d share it.
New Orleans Letter to America
I suppose we should introduce ourselves: We’re South Louisiana.
We have arrived on your doorstep on short notice and we apologize for that, but we never were much for waiting around for invitations. We’re not much on formalities like that.
And we might be staying around your town for a while, enrolling in your schools and looking for jobs, so we wanted to tell you a few things about us. We know you didn’t ask for this and neither did we, so we’re just going to have to make the best of it.
First of all, we thank you. For your money, your water, your food, your prayers, your boats and buses and the men and women of your National Guards, fire departments, hospitals and everyone else who has come to our rescue.
We’re a fiercely proud and independent people, and we don’t cotton much to outside interference, but we’re not ashamed to accept help when we need it. And right now, we need it.
Just don’t get carried away. For instance, once we get around to fishing again, don’t try to tell us what kind of lures work best in your waters.
We’re not going to listen. We’re stubborn that way.
You probably already know that we talk funny and listen to strange music and eat things you’d probably hire an exterminator to get out of your yard.
We dance even if there’s no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and, frankly, we’re suspicious of others who don’t.
But we’ll try not to judge you while we’re in your town.
Everybody loves their home, we know that. But we love South Louisiana with a ferocity that borders on the pathological. Sometimes we bury our dead in LSU sweatshirts.
Often we don’t make sense. You may wonder why, for instance – if we could only carry one small bag of belongings with us on our journey to your state – why in God’s name did we bring a pair of shrimp boots?
We can’t really explain that. It is what it is.
You’ve probably heard that many of us stayed behind. As bad as it is, many of us cannot fathom a life outside of our border, out in that place we call Elsewhere.
The only way you could understand that is if you have been there, and so many of you have. So you realize that when you strip away all the craziness and bars and parades and music and architecture and all that hooey, really, the best thing about where we come from is us.
We are what made this place a national treasure. We’re good people. And don’t be afraid to ask us how to pronounce our names. It happens all the time.
When you meet us now and you look into our eyes, you will see the saddest story ever told. Our hearts are broken into a thousand pieces.
But don’t pity us. We’re gonna make it. We’re resilient. After all, we’ve been rooting for the Saints for 35 years. That’s got to count for something.
OK, maybe something else you should know is that we make jokes at inappropriate times.
But what the hell.
And one more thing: In our part of the country, we’re used to having visitors. It’s our way of life.
So when all this is over and we move back home, we will repay to you the hospitality and generosity of spirit you offer to us in this season of our despair.
That is our promise. That is our faith.
– written by Chris Rose, a regular columnist for the The Times-Picayune.
This letter makes me smile, even though it is a tad bit sad. It is so true everything he says. I immediately can picture Miss Dot dancing on the porch after telling her Katrina story, along with every one of the other ladies whom we have helped. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
So I was just kind of thinking about New Orleans tonight, and I began thinking of the corruption there, and eventually this idea of corruption I was thinking of I realized was worldwide. I began thinking of world peace and why it hasn’t already become a reality…And I came to a realization. I realized… that people focus on the differences between people… instead of the similarities. I wasn’t really sure how to put it into words, so I wrote it in a poem… here it is, its basically my attempt to show that the similarities between all people in the world are more important than superficial differences. I’ll let my poem speak for itself now…
We all know
How it feels to be so angry you want
To scream so loud that everyone hears you
We All know
What its like to question and wonder
As those hot salty tears stream from your eyes
We all know
How it feels to want them to love
Not just the person you portray
We all know
What its like to hold their hand
And feel their soft skin against your own
We all know
What it feels like to lose the one person you love
And how you’d give anything to have them back
We all know
How it feels to go crazy
Sick with worries of the future
We all know
What its like to care about someone so much
That you’d give your own life
To protect them…
Do differences matter… When we all know?
© 2008 Lori McEwen
Enjoy…. and comment if you want…:)
Basically, I just got home from youth group, so kinda a sudden blog… but basically Danny’s simulation pissed me off. period end of story.
For those of you not there tonight, Danny played a new member of the youth group who was sort of a pessimist. He came into the youth group talking about how the church has worked for so many years… theres no reason to change the way we worship… and it made me angry… not at Danny, but at the people who in reality think the way Danny did in the simulation…
I AM NOT, NOR HAVE I EVER BEEN, NOR DO I EVER WANT TO BE A TYPICAL CHURCH GOING PERSON.
Let me explain. From my experience, many people who go to church at some point or another lose their faith in a way that they just “go through the motions” in church, and the actions no longer have meaning.
In my mind, there is a difference between having faith and being religious. To me, being religious is going to church, and being active in a church, all that strictly church stuff.
I DO NOT think thats important.
Having faith is much more important. To me, this is knowing what is right and what is wrong, and putting your thoughts and actions forward with optimism that you can make things better. Having faith is showing people that they alone have the power to change the world, to mold and create their perfect world, and truly believing this.
Many churches I’ve been to, not going to name them, have caused me to either lose faith, or become so bored that I get nothing out of it. Church should be a way of practicing your FAITH… which it is not.
No one can tell you the right or wrong way to practice your faith, it is something that is specific to each person. Personally, I help others, I listen to others, and I try to keep a smile on my face while doing it. No one can tell me this is wrong. The St. Stephens Youth Group is a community I have found which allows me to do this.
I DONT NEED CHURCH TO PRACTICE MY FAITH!
People change with the times, and the church has not. Let people worship the way they feel most appropriate… Let them focus on what they think is important in a service. Tradition is not the important part…
sorry to break it to you but HISTORY HAS BEEN WRONG MADE MISTAKES…. WE NEED TO LEARN FROM THEM…
The past is the reason for so many horrible things, such as overreaction causing conflict, misunderstanding, whatever you can think of. So improve on the past, don’t live with it… the past doesn’t have to be our present. I dont think current church services fit our generation… So lets change it, make it fit us, examples, more music, more discussions, whatever it is your thinking of while reading this… your right.
I’m just vibing off what Lori wrote in the last post. Before I came down to UCLA they made us read this book about this doctor who worked in Haiti setting up a clinic for the people living there. He started going down to Haiti when he was 23, between classes and med school, and just spending his free time doing whatever he could to help each of his patients individually, even if it meant that he had to walk hours just to get to them.
Anyway, this one man started his own organization, just to help him fundraise for this one community in Haiti, and over time, his ideas and commitment caught on, and his organization grew and expanded and he started doing the same things in Peru and Russia. Eventually he was running national programs in these countries, and making a huge difference in treating Tuberculosis for tens of thousands of people. What started as one man helping one community quickly became a worldwide organization, all because of one mans drive.
One of the things that surprised me about this book, was that despite this mans accomplishments, i didn’t like him. He worked harder than was healthy, took the burden of the world’s sick upon himself, sometimes he acted like a huge jerk to his close friends, and he was almost constantly absent as a husband and father. Anyway, the point I’m making is not that this guy was a jerk, but that he was human, that he had faults and flaws just like anyone else. He wasn’t a saint, but he was still able to effect thousands of lives for the better. Anyway, that’s what I had to say about Lori had to say, this is the second time Lori’s blog has inspired one of my blogs, so I guess you could say she’s my muse, in a non-creepy way. Sorry if this totally misses the mark Lori.
Well, I was just thinking. We always talk about how we ARE the difference… and how we’re going to change things, and for awhile, I was convinced.
I’ve been spreading the word about our nation wide trip, encouraged by people approaching me, asking questions. Until today, when someone came up to me and said, “Thats a stupid idea. Even if you can get 200 youth down there, think of how many youth are in this city, state, country, the world… 200 is NOTHING…” I realized he was right. The world is huge…. There is no way that one person can directly influence every person in the world…. And then I read this…
One song can spark a moment
One flower can wake the dream
One tree can start a forest
One bird can herald spring
One smile begins a friendship
One handclasp lifts a soul
One star can guide a ship at sea
One word can frame the goal
One vote can change a nation
One sunbeam lights a room
One candle wipes out darkness
One laugh will conquer gloom
One step must start each journey
One word must start a prayer
One hope will raise our spirits
One touch can show you care
One voice can speak with wisdom
One heart can know what is true
One Life can make a difference
When I read this, it made me realize that it’s definately true that we cannot fix everything, no matter how much we want to, its not possible to fix the world. Baby steps are needed. Caring is like a chain reaction… Interacting with a caring person strikes something inside them that makes them care… and hopefully the chain continues. Eventually every person could care. Indirectly, we have the power to influence everyone in the world
Every SINGLE BRAINLESS, SENSELESS, SOMETIMES STUPID, RICH, POOR, MAN AND WOMAN HAS THE ABILITY TO BE GREAT…. through caring.
Caring is something that everyone is capable of, the only thing that can cause a change in this screwed up world we live in now. It is through caring that people feel the need for compassion, love, and understanding….So no matter WHO it is you come in contact with, care for them. They will return the favor, maybe not to you, but to someone else, so that caring may spread across the world and begin change.
I know not many people will read this… but I’ve decided I’m going to blog anyway. I think it is important.
Why do I feel like I’m writing to nobody whenever I blog? Huh? I don’t know. Maybe because nobody ever comments. Or maybe because nobody ever blogs. Look I’ve blogged this past week, and the last one before that was in early July. We need to blog more. Plus, read the blogs below.