One of the most striking things about New Orleans is the spirit of chaos (and sure, of music and revelry) that imbued the city even before the flooding of Katrina, and now permeates each street corner like the water that rushed in with the storm surge. After a week of listening to lilting creole and cajun voices tell their stories, I realized that the post-K narratives are broken pieces of a larger whole which may or may not ever be fully articulated -- so part of our work there, aside from the ripping down and the steri-fabbing, was gathering up as many pieces of testimony and experience as we could, and attempting to put them together into some coherent picture of "life in the after the storm" as one man, brother julius, put it.
In the midst of the confusion and the music and the stories and the chaos, though, there are parts of the city that offer refuge from the raging mess of the rest of it. On Thursday afternoon, we discovered the labyrinth in Audubon Park and walked its circuitous route silently together amongst the massive oak and sycamore trees with spanish moss drifting from their branches. The labyrinth claims to be "a symbol of hope and will offer our New Orleans community a place to heal, to walk together, and to celebrate new life." A place for the people to find their center, in the spiritual practice of walking meditation, in the quiet beauty of the park.
As I reflected in my walking upon the images seared in my memory of homes abandoned and empty fields where whole communities thrived, I stirred the pot of my simmering anger and tried to be open to the new taste of bitterness that had developed in it over the week. Slowly, though, the labyrinth worked its transformative magic. I began to notice the touch of fall in the january air, and in recognizing the strangeness of the season, I relished the feeling of the stone path against my bare feet... to everything, there is a season, a time for everything. Now is the time for the simmering anger to turn into action, re-creation. Beyond rebuilding houses, rebuilding community and seeking justice for those who have no homes to rebuild.
my story has found its center.