Monday, August 28, 2006

It's a Holy, Tough, Good, Weird Time

Yesterday (Sunday) 120 of us gathered under a canopy over the outoor chapel on our former church site. The outdoor chapel was built in St. Patrick's Park, a green space behind our church that the city maintained as a park and ball field. The outdoor chapel mostly survived the storm (some benches gone but the altar remains). It's all that is left of our church structures.
Bishop Gray joined us and we had a very good turnout. It was a very emotional day, tears flowed freely. During communion we oriented everyone so they were looking out at the ruins of the church and the Gulf beyond. We did annointing (unction) and prayed.
We also baptized two children! And we declared our faith, our hope, our determination.
You can listen to my sermon (it's short on the Knight scale) and see some pictures by clicking here
Tomorrow we have several other things on tap for the actual anniversary, some joint services at the school where we worship and the site of our relief center, and another at the Methodist church in Long Beach.
Folks around here are handling this special date in a variety of ways - but many, many are struggling. Suicide attempts are up, mental health issues abound, kids are acting out big time. Every channel you turn to is showing images and videos of the horror we went through (and still go through). I have told my folks to just turn the blasted TV off. Our minds have ENOUGH images for us all. Plus, people are down right ANGRY that once again, New Orleans gets all the attention. But I guess their anger has to go somewhere.
Tomorrow will be tough. Keep us in your prayers.
By the way, Trip, if you are reading, I used your quote in my sermon - thanks dude!

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Well, it's almost here. The one year anniversary of "the storm" (a reminder to readers - we don't say the name of it down here, it's almost a Valdermort kind of thing - the storm-that-must-not-be-named).
Lots of press are converging. Most will, of course, go to New Orleans, maybe to chase ridiculous rumors a la Spike Lee. Some will visit Mississippi. We'll see the images again, look at the enormous LACK of progress, hear from the thousands still living in trailers, wonder if things will ever even look "that way" again as before and after pictures are shown over and over.
When you drive down the beach road now, in some ways it's worse. So much is overgrown with weeds and bushes, it's hard to tell where the slabs were. The church site is very hard to pick out now, other than the cross we put up, made from the remaining floor joists in the foundation (all that was left).
I can tell the idea of the anniversary is having an interesting affect on me and many others. To me it's depressing. I want to get past it. For others, this significant time will help the grieving process. For our church, we'll see.
Next Sunday (27th) we will gather in the outdoor chapel of the park that we had right behind our church. The actually church site is too dangerous still - too much debris and glass and broken things. We will have church facing the beach and the ruined church. We will share the Eucharist and do healing prayers with annointing with oil. AND - we will have some baptisms!
It struck me that baptism could be the symbol of resurrection hope, of new life, of washing clean, of starting over. I talked to the parents of two children who have been wanting to discuss baptism (they are under 12) and they were very excited to have this take place on that day.
This will make 11 baptisms since Christmas. THAT is a good thing!
Keep praying for us y'all. It's going to be a rough couple of weeks......but BAPTISMS! I think that's very cool......

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Back in Town

Well, I know all my adoring fans have been deeply upset by the lack of posts. I was floored to have The Mad Priest mention my blog (and say nice things about me too!) while I was away.
I am back from 2 weeks of a very nice vacation, and a week with the LW as she has recovered very nicely from surgery earlier this week. We did the surgery about 1 1/2 hours from home because she knows the doc real well, and we have family there to help out. We are home and she's doing great - she's tough!
For vacation I stayed out of town almost the entire two weeks. Living, for a short time, in a "normal" world was often disorienting and at times painful. We are still so far from normal, but it was nice to experience it for a little while.
My son and I spent 3 days at a relative's beach house. We fished, played tennis, went to the movies (twice!), and body surfed. We had a good time, some real nice father - son bonding. He's growing up so fast, almost 13, and getting REALLY tall. He's a good guy too.
Then the 5 of us went to S. Florida and spent 5 days at another relative's house (are you seeing a pattern for this vacation - CHEAP!). It was wonderful there. They have a beautiful home. I played golf, played a little tennis, slept late, swam, ate some excellent food. It was very nice. Our two daughters stayed an extra day, while the LW and my son and I flew to Chicago. It was my first trip back since leaving seminary 4 years ago. We spent 3 days and nights at the Lake Michigan beach house of some very dear friends. We hung out, played in the lake (had BIG waves one day), and, again, ate well! It's good to have friends that not only will invite you to stay with them, they cook good too!
We then traveled to Evanston where Seabury Western Seminary is. We stayed with seminary friends on campus. As I made the drive up Lake Shore to Evanston and entered the town, I was really overwhelmed. I didn't realize just how much I missed that place. My 3 years there were the best of my life. We walked around downtown Evanston, had lunch with my former Rector from Mississippi and his wife (they've retired to Evanston), and then visited the old haunts on campus - chapel, classrooms, etc. Sitting in that chapel was a moving experience. I could hear my friends voices, mostly laughing. We had some good times! Sitting in the classroom was even more weird. I was flooded with so many great memories.
We didn't have time to make it into Chicago, but what a great city that is! I miss it too. Even with the winters I could live in Evanston, but I'd probably have to go alone! Too cold for the LW!
Time to polish tomorrow's sermon. Good to be home.