How’d y’all do?

“How’d y’all do?”

It’s a query I hear (and use) often.  I ask my husband that when he calls from the boat landing after a day of fishing.  He’ll ask a friend that about their hunting.  Someone played football/softball whatever? Had a garage sale? Got through a hurricane, flood, tornado, storm?

How’d y’all do?

No one in Louisiana has had to ask what that question’s been about this past week Everyone around here knows about the insane amount of rainfall this past weekend.

Breaux Bridge

Aug. 13, 2016 in Breaux Bridge, La.  This was high ground.

A shrug, a slow head nod. “Did ok.  Lotta water in the yard/garage/shop/street but the house is OK.”

A shrug, a sigh, a slow head shake.  “Well, not so hot.  Everything flooded. House, cars.”

Then, there are the stories about someone waking up in the night, getting out of bed and realizing they’re in water up to there.  Or the folks who had to climb into the attic and out of a window, or hack a hole in the roof.  It’s a sickening feeling, watching the water rise and knowing there’s not a blasted thing you can do about it.  Been there, done that, no fun.

water dave rita

We’ve had high water before…

On the other hand, there are the stories of kindness.  Travelers stranded on the highways for hours were cared for by people living nearby.  Not just water and snacks, but home cooked jambalaya, red beans, etc.  When in doubt, bring food.  People helping neighbors and strangers.  Perhaps that’s why there hasn’t been a lot of national news on this story; Cajuns (and “adopted Cajuns”) know how to fend for themselves and each other.  Just do a quick search for “Cajun Navy” and you’ll see what I mean.

Yes, there is a certain amount of “self determination” and self-sufficiency in that, and this isn’t always seen as politically correct.  Too bad.  It’s what we do, it’s what many people do in Louisiana and beyond. It’s common human decency, although if you watch the news too much you may become convinced that this no longer exists.  It does, though, and is out in full force this week as everyone does whatever they can to help someone else who’s dealing with the flood aftermath. Self sufficiency doesn’t mean all alone; it means that there are people around you who will help – just as you help them when the need arises.

We did OK.  Family, house, business, staff, all ok.  Too many other folks we know – not all so good.  We’re on high ground (relatively speaking in south Louisiana) but a lot of folks live in new subdivisions that were “not in a flood zone” – and therefore don’t have flood insurance because no one ever dreamed they’d flood.

water in the cane

Cane fields don’t usually look like rice fields…

I read today that the equivalent of one and a half Lake Ponchartrains fell on Louisiana within a few days. That’s a lot of water.

So what are we doing?  What we always do.  Back to work, do what you can to help wherever you can, swat the mosquitos, and be grateful.  Oh, and bring food.

How’d y’all do?

Shrug.  We’ll get there. We always do.

onward

Want to help Louisiana and show some love?  New Iberia artist Paul Schexnayder has designed a print that expresses the resilience of Louisiana, and ALL proceeds go to the Community Foundation of Louisiana Disaster Relief Fund.  The 11 x 14 print is $45 and the T-shirt is $20, and comes in adult and youth sizes.  I love how Paul’s work shows hope and joy in even the darkest of circumstances.  To order, or for more information, look up Paul on facebook or find him via his website.

Hurricane Rita: Ten Years

Ten years ago, hurricane Rita (“the forgotten hurricane”) tore through southwest Louisiana. It was only 3 weeks after hurricane Katrina had captured national attention.  Katrina had slammed New Orleans and coastal areas to the east; obliterating coastline communities throughout Mississippi and Alabama. Rita took care of the rest of Louisiana (and southeast Texas as well).

A few weeks before Katrina was even a blip in the Atlantic, I had pulled out a song I’d written after a concert at Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Biloxi, Mississippi. This area had been hard hit in 1969 by Hurricane Camille, a storm of legend, and the church (which was situated right across the highway from the Gulf) had been destroyed in that storm.  Only the bell tower remained, and photos were on display in the parish hall. The song, Wall of Water, was one that my band, Blue Merlot, agreed was one to include on a CD we were planning.

A few weeks later, Katina hit.  Then Rita.  Our CD project was delayed in a big way.  Eventually, though, it was recorded.  Even later, we pulled together bits of video recorded (some months after Rita) and hurricane photos for a video:

A wall, a wall of water, 30 feet high…where you gonna run to when the sea becomes the sky?

Faith…and Prayers for Lafayette and all of Acadiana

One week ago, a madman opened fire in a theater in Lafayette, La., killing 2 people and injuring others before killing himself. I don’t often use hashtags, but #AcadianaStrong #LafayetteStrong and #PrayforLafayette strikes home because yes, this is home, and people and families from throughout the Acadiana area were deeply affected.  I’ve been to that theater, and have brought my children there over the years as well. AcaianaStrong

The day before the shooting, my daughter and I shared latte and conversation at Johnston Street Java, a coffee shop in the parking lot of the Grand.  I (and everyone I know) share connections to those shot, and we are all shell-shocked, grieving, and wondering why. Reasoning and political posturing (which isn’t always reasonable) fly in the aftermath.  I would like to think we all agree that we want a peaceful society. 

Sometimes, though, I wonder. Do we really, really want a peaceful society?  If the answer is yes, then why do we worship violence through our choices of entertainment? Consider the changes in Hollywood over the past several decades.  Violence is invited into homes on a daily basis, and not just through the news.  Millions flock to movie theaters, and Hollywood glorifies violence in ever-increasing graphic, sometimes even sadistic, detail.  Many video games encourage participation in bloodlust.  Numerous actors, directors and others who make their living (often a very, very good living) in the movie industry call for gun control, but then don’t live their convictions. hollywood gun glory

If you want to make a difference, please start by setting an example.  As for the rest of us, we don’t have to patronize movies or other media that glamorize violence.  If enough people feel that way, profits for such media will shrink, and its presence will diminish.

Another point to ponder:  If we really want a peaceful society, then why are we becoming more and more of a secular one, afraid to touch anything that might bear the hint of religion or spirituality? We are, still, a nation of laws, and there are basic laws of God and nature that must be upheld.  Thou shalt not commit murder.  Thou shalt not steal.  The strengths of these truths are watered down by a constant barrage of violent images and messages coming at us on television, in movies, games, music, online, etc.

I don’t think there’s any single or simple answer to this violence.  Humans are flawed, and some choose evil.  Those who would commit evil can find a way to do so regardless of whatever laws there are to prevent them.  Evil can use anything as a weapon, be it a gun, homemade bomb, club, car or airplane. The rage of a madman exploded in an act of violence that took the lives of two shining, vibrant young women and rocked the souls of an entire region. Prayers4Lafayette

But I know that there’s something in this region, in our Louisiana culture that comes through in every disaster we face. It may not be unique in the world, but it’s more important today than ever before: Faith.  Over 250 years ago, the Acadians were forcibly removed without warning from their homes in Nova Scotia. Families were separated, all property and land was taken, and the Acadian people were literally shipped across sea and land. Many were removed and displaced several times over decades before finally finding a place to settle. LoveLaf In most cases, they could bring nothing with them – except their faith.  No Crown, no government, no soldiers or guns or threats or ships could strip that away, and they clung fiercely to God and to each other. Generations later, we still turn first to God in times of need, regardless of religious denomination. Our ancestors learned that no one can take faith away from you.  It may be shaken, it may be temporarily misplaced, but no one can take it away.  Not hurricanes, not economic disasters, not oil spills.

Not even a madman.

As the eyes across the nation and beyond focus on Lafayette and all of Acadiana, I hope they can see and sense our prayers, our faith, our trust in God. Tonight there is a concert and gathering in Lafayette for strength, prayer, hope, music and togetherness.  For every person in attendance, there will be countless more who cannot be there physically but are present in prayer and spirit. And yes, we feel, and deeply and humbly appreciate, the prayers from around the world.

I think of the song Let There Be Peace on Earth.  We all want peace on earth, as impossible as it may seem at times.  The lyrics “…let it begin with me” resonate with more truth than ever, for where else can peace begin but with the individual? The response of Emanuel Church in Charleston give us a beautiful example of this. As we all wonder why, and what can I do, the answers come back to those answers known for generations, entwined in our DNA. Keep faith, pray, and know that the first step in achieving peace on earth lies with each one of us.