Preliminary Reflections from New Orleans
When you walk up to the door of St. Mary of the Angels Friary in New Orleans you see a spray-painted door indicating that there is toxic flood water within. While that is no longer true, the friary is still in need of a great deal of work. As can be seen on the right, the first floor has been gutted and plans are being drawn up for its remodeling. Even the metal door jams will need to be replaced. Everything was ruined by the flood water of one year ago.
I spent some time with Fr. Bart Pax, O.F.M., the local pastor, this morning and then returned this evening to take him out to dinner. The article in Saint Anthony Messenger that I linked a couple of posts ago tells his story, but talking with him gave me a different slant on the situation. I deeply respect his courage, dedication, and faith.
Between my visits with Fr. Bart I drove the sixty-some miles down the delta where we once had a number of missions. I will reflect a bit more on this when I get home, but for right now I'll share just a couple of thoughts. First, I am amazed how nature recoups itself. Seasons come and go and new growth fills in where damage once was evident. Even the places that used to be inhabited by people and their structures quickly return to nature once we move out. Second, I was surprised how few devastated building I saw until I suddenly realized that that is because they have been cleared away. All that remains in many places is nothing--nothing where once human live flourished.
Finally, I found myself unable to take many pictures on the trip. Sometimes it was because it was impossible to pull off the road to take a picture, but more often it was because I couldn't bring myself to snap a picture. I felt I would be violating someone's privacy. This structure--now reduced to rubble--was someone's home, or business, or school. Human life flourished in this structure that now lies in ruin, and I just needed to leave it alone. It's not mine to use for my purposes.
Tomorrow I visit a prospective and return to Cincinnati. But this day will stick in my memory because of who and what I experienced.