How are we to love God if we do not first love our neighbor? And if we are to love our neighbor then how can we if we do not first love ourselves as unconditionally as God loves us. For we must first know who we are and what we can give before we can give it away.
I hope that on this journey I can learn what it is that is needed to give a fully unconditional love—an unattached love not only to the neighbor in the faces of the citizens of New Orleans but those of the whole world.
What comes to mind is my previously posted poem, Unattached Love, this time with a new meaning— that of a city calling out:
There are some nights I wonder
And wish all things were clear
And that my heart didn't ponder
On those I love so dear.
I sit amid the darkness and pray
For the burning silence of my heart,
For a quiet desire that won't go away,
One that has been here from the start.
I close my eyes this night
And pray for the strength
To love with an unattached love,
With a heart that can let go...
When dreams that were once reality
Go aimlessly floating away.
Today started out in a refreshingly hectic sort of way. With the time change I was left in a compromised sleeping situation, but it did turn out in spite of all the circumstances into a joyous morning. I have been trying to paint a picture of what I am searching for and for what I am hoping to improve within myself during this journey of service, of compassion, and of love.
This picture was most clearly crystallized in the Sunday Mass at St. Peter Claver in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans.
If you've never been to New Orleans before or have but don't know much of its history, let me fill you in a bit. The city from its beginnings has been a predominantly Catholic faith-filled community. And its individual communities within have traces of this fact, even its African-American ones. From the city's founding the liturgical calendar has traveled right beside the civil one. This fact is a crucial reason for the resonance of the Mardi Gras celebrations over the years—the true one celebrating the joys of life—in this wonderful city.
What I saw this day at St. Peter Claver was something I've never seen firsthand in all my years in New Orleans before. In hearing the words of the story of Lazarus before the Mass and during the Mass from the Deacon, I knew of those words' resonance to the community and its current situation. These words called for a faith in action. What I saw and heard this morning testified to this and to the Truth. The opening hymn was so incredibly moving for I heard, in the voices of the church's Gospel choir, the trust of the community in the Lord, a trust so fully in the Lord. It mattered not the troubles they have already traversed or have yet to traverse because they are the Lord's and, like Lazarus's family, they trusted in Him to show them the Way: that He is the Resurrection.
We spent the remainder of the day seeing the city as I have seen several times before, but through it all and still now I heard those inspiring and comforting words of Jesus Christ, the Resurrection, and saw Him moving through this dark time for the city to bring it into a bright new day. We cannot do anything with regards to the resurrection of this city because it first begins with Him and through Him there is Life.