Today, during a Mother’s Day neighborhood parade, 19 people were shot in the Faubourg St. Phillipe”
So, the news droned on. Throughout the late afternoon, the number shot climbed…10, 12, 17, 19… As NOPD discovered more wounded taken to various hospitals in private cars. Why? Who? What? Evil-cheap life-crime-broken society and neighborhoods – these plague this special place. It also reflects why we’re here in New Orleans, or as her charter reads, la Nouvelle Orléans.
This ‘neighborhood parade’ is locally known as one of many of the Spring & Summer “Second Lines”. The Second Line originated in the group of people after the priest and family who marched out of the church to the local cemetery for the final burial. They dirged with a band going to the grave, but at the gates of the cemetery, the band shrilled a fare and the music changed to celebration, giving both the mourning space, but as in so many of the Psalms, turning to joy at the end, as they remind themselves of the promise of heaven from the Living God. Such is life in a French European Colony, with a zest of African-Caribbean culture on the top. New Orleans is said to put the FUN in funeral. These people find a way to celebrate even catastrophe.
Over time, the Second Line was appropriated to other parts of life – giving expression to celebration, always involving music, a dancing procession, mingling of every class of society and celebrating life itself. Such is the custom in the New Orleans Black neighborhoods of the city. On Sundays for any reason there are parades like these, no floats, no dignitaries. just a jazz march band and a throng of people with parasols, libations and fun. You see friends, catch up and walk your own neighborhood…
Yesterday was sunny, mild for New Orleans, but warm and low humidity (you always mention the humidity in New Orleans weather!) and it was Mother’s Day and it falls in Second Line season… NOPD was present, all were happy – then for no reason, chaos itself manifested in three gunmen opening fire into the crowd…no motive, no target, just evil unleashed. Such is the site of brokenness and pain. Thanking God, no one died, most were only grazed, but a few hit and in serious care in the hospitals they in which they landed.
Why live here? Why not seek the comfort and security of white collared and white skinned suburbs? We’re called here. I can’t defend it, or explain it or rationalize it to most who find this incredulous or remarkable. We’re supposed to be here. Jesus moved towards pain and brokenness, not towards the well. We’re called not be great, but to bear witness, to incarnate Him where He’s needed most. So, we’re here.
This morning, a friend in London sent me this passage, which seems so far away to be our reality, but I cling to it for my destiny.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, Behold, I am making all things new. And He said, Write, for these words are faithful and true. And He said to me, It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”
May your day be quiet, paused and paced to give you perspective and a heart for those who are broken.