>And out of tragedy comes… celebration

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Well, yesterday was the five year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina wreaking havoc on Louisiana and the Mississippi coast. Some of you may recall my past blog posts on this topic like this one from last year. I also talked about the personal stresses that stuck with me back in May just after we moved here. Since the beginning of what I think of as the Katrina season, I’ve been reading articles on the coming anniversary.
For those who aren’t familiar with our story, we moved to Jordan about 6 months after Hurricane Katrina. Before we moved, we were living just down the road about an hour outside of New Orleans. We were on the good side of the hurricane and dealt with only power outages and strong winds. The strong winds of day one were wonderful, the power outages lasting from day one through four were not. For us, we suffered from increased traffic, lost food, and downed trees. Given what could have happened (and did to people we know personally), we were very lucky. One friend had 25 members of the family living in her three bedroom house for many weeks. She had her brother’s entire family living with her family for months.
I have to admit that hearing about the rolling blackouts in Amman this summer make me even more happy we weren’t here. Although the night-time heat is never what it was in Louisiana that year. I have a sense that the reminders of that time would have been too close yet. Sleeping on the tile floor in the kitchen to get a tiny bit of relief from the heat… kids waking screaming crying for water because of the sweating overnight in the extreme heat and humidity. These are definitely things I don’t want to think about too much…
Now that alot of time has passed, I find myself still reading news of New Orleans every year. I am still engaged and still thinking about the folks in South Louisiana. Nowadays, they have to deal with nasty oil and tar balls more urgently than the remains of the hurricane damage. But, they’re hardy folks. They’ll make it through.
Today, the Jordan Times has an article on New Orleans. How surreal to be in Jordan and see an article in the local appear about this place where I used to live. But, the best thing about this article is the way that the people of the lower 9th ward are recognizing the day. For those who are unfamiliar (is it possible that anyone still is?!), the lower ninth ward in New Orleans is a very poor area. The inhabitants were black and the area was rough. The old joke is that if you see a white person, they must be lost. But, they took the spirit of New Orleans and celebrated the way only New Orleans can, with a jazz band (see below) called the second line.
It’s kind of like a big, moving jazz party. And, it takes New Orleanians to throw that kind of party marking such a tragedy. The best way to recognize a tragedy? Throw a party.
I was also interested in the groups that held a funeral for Hurricane Katrina. What an excellent way to get closure. People who have come back, rebuilt, and gone on with life put together a coffin, put reminders of the hurricane into a huge time capsule and buried it. It’s a nice physical way to move on. The past is gone and buried (literally), now we go on with life…
And, I think there’s a lesson here for each of us. When faced with an intolerable situation, perhaps the best response is to move on and then, when the healing has been sufficient, throw a party. Celebrate. You don’t celebrate the tragedy. I assure you no one in New Orleans is celebrating the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. You celebrate the blessing of moving beyond it. You celebrate the mere fact that you are alive. You celebrate moving on with life.
Happy Celebrations!
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