I don’t know what I expected. I mean, I think I tried hard not to have “expectations” at all, but to remain completely open about whatever I’d find here.
Hurricane Katrina was… ummmmm… in 2005, so that’s seven years ago. I’m not sure anyone thought the city would still be cleaning up after all this time.
My work here is very ecumenical. Well, I think interfaith is a better word. The other day I was working in a community garden with a handful of Muslim youth. Last week, I was being mothered by a bevy of Jewish ladies. They were thrilled to hear that my Dad’s family is Jewish, but one lady in particular was devastated to find out that I was raised Catholic. She was only vaguely comforted to learn that, as an adult, I embrace God in a way that has trouble fitting in with any particular church.
That’s not to say I don’t want to… there is something attractive about finding a church family where you feel you belong. The trouble is, church families are made up of real people, and real people… well, real people have issues.
In the past few weeks, I’ve met a lot of people with issues.
Wait… that sounded bad…
OK. My so-called-job down here is rather loosely defined. I kind of fill in the cracks wherever I’m needed, and sometimes that means I’m just hanging around and talking to people. There are youth groups who come down here to help out in whatever way they can. Most of the kids are happy and bouncy and eager to lend a hand in whatever way you ask. Others take some more prodding; they think this a vacation, not a mission trip.
Sometimes the people who come down to New Orleans have some kind of inner struggle going on that they just can’t come to grips with. But being here, seeing how some people have just given up while others are striving and thriving somehow gives them a new perspective. I’ve sat and just talked with quite a few people, from a 13yo who thinks she wants to be a minister, to an 83yo who wonders about what else is left for him in this life.
My time here has been a true sojourn. I’ve wandered. I’ve shared. I’ve listened and learned.
And I admit I’m tired. I just got my next assignment from Sojourner HQ. It’s time to move on.