Saturday, September 18, 2010

EPIPHANY: ACT I

It is September 2010. Time flies when your having fun.

I've been blogging now for a little over two years and have enjoyed every minute of it.I started this blog for two reasons.

First I wanted to record some of my thoughts and feelings I felt were important to pass on to my children and grandchildren. Often, I have thought maybe I have been a little TOO transparent. Possibly, there are things children and grandchildren are better off not knowing. But if I have to ere in this life, I guess I will have to ere on the side of translucency.

Secondly, by writing down some of the memories of my childhood, both positive and negative, I hoped to find some way of making peace with my past. And I have. Why does it take some of us a lifetime to realize that our parents were just human beings and flawed ones at best? Perhaps it's just me, I don't know. But I do know I have closure now that I did not have before starting this blog.

(Me visiting my mother's grave site located in the ninth ward of New Orleans June 2010)

I made two very significant journeys back to my childhood hometown this summer, New Orleans. Both trips affected me profoundly. It's been difficult to describe and put words to feelings, but I feel now I am ready and I must at least try.

It is the ending of my story and yet it is the beginning.

The first was my trip to the National Hansen's Disease Museum in Carville, Louisiana. In times past it was known as the "Hospital for Lepers". How could I have been brought up in New Orleans, just forty miles down river from this place, and not known this special place existed. Not once had I ever heard this place mentioned in my home, my school or church.

What a special world this was. A place for outcast, for flawed and rejected people not only from our country, but from all over the world! I never had leprosy but I'm sure I would have felt at home there as a child. It sounds crazy I know, but I wish I could have lived there.

I'm told that there was a lot of love there in spite of all the hindrances. Some folks were exiled there for a lifetime for a disease that was never even contagious, as we now all know or at least should know .

There's a part of me that's angry it took fifty-seven years to find out about Carville. I'm privileged to have finally visited there and met Simeon Peterson, a life long resident and sufferer of Hansen's disease. He doesn't have to stay there anymore, but he does so because he WANTS to and works as museum guide. I love the Simeons of this world!

These great warriors of "leprosy" eventually overcame all the obstacles placed upon them. The patients, doctors and nurses and Nuns at Carville played a huge role in finding a cure for this disease. What a real bunch of heroes were they.

(Pateints lived, died and were buried at Carville Hospital)

After leaving Carville I mentally buried what few childhood feelings I had left of feeling flawed, rejected and outcast.

There are no walls that surround "Carville Leper Colony" now as they once did.

And as for myself? I kicked the last few bricks out from my own lifetime of self imposed walls after having visited there this summer. To God be the glory.





EPIPHANY ACT II

On the fourth of July weekend my husband and I journeyed back to New Orleans to enjoy the fireworks and also visit some of the lovely plantation homes located along River Road. I also had been fascinated by the excellent news coverage of the gulf oil spill provided nightly by Anderson Cooper at CNN. I thought, who knows maybe I'll get to see him as he is there every night reporting from the Riverwalk.

(Oak groves trees, if you look closely at the end of these two rows of trees you will find a white cross right in the middle.)

River Road is unusual road to travel. On one side of the highway there is the levee. On the other side of the highway you find beautiful plantation homes, oak trees, churches and homes. And oddly, chemical plants are located along this road as well. No offense, but those things are just ugly!

( Houmas House Plantation )

On Sunday the fourth of July we drove into the inner city of New Orleans and visited a beautiful little mission church called Vintage Church on Magazine Street. It felt odd for me to attend there. As a child I only knew of Catholic churches in New Orleans and it was a blessing for me to attend this little Baptist Mission church.


(Green building is Vintage Church, Magazine Street, New Orleans.)

We went back to the hotel room and rested awhile after church. After resting we headed back into the city to look around at the Riverwalk area and await the beautiful fireworks display that takes place yearly over the mighty Mississippi River.

One of the first stops we made was at the Cafe Du Monde. This famous coffee and beignet (square donuts with powdered sugar)shop has been part of my family history for long as I can remember. My mother worked there as a teenager as did most of her siblings. My uncle was the manager there for some forty plus years. I still have second cousins that work there today.

(Cafe Du Monde, it really hasn't changed much through the years.)


(A diabetic coma waiting to happen)

Merriam-Webster defines epiphany as "a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something".

Now I have to tell you, I've never, to my knowledge, experienced an epiphany before, but as soon as my husband and I stepped out of the Cafe Du Monde, I knew I was experiencing one. We had paused for just a moment to take in all the sights and sounds.

Two feet in front of us a wonderful jazz band were playing their hearts out. I was amazed they could play so very well in the hot, scorching heat of the day. Happy families milled all around us, some wearing red, white and blue. I'm sure they too were anticipating the fireworks show to come. I looked across the street and gazed upon the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral. My eyes rested momentarily at the street performer all ablazed in gold paint assuming various poses. To my back was the Mississippi River. I couldn't see her but I knew she was there.

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As I stood there and took in all the sights and sounds, I was overwhelm with feelings of love, joy, peace and happiness. I had spent the better part of my adult life trying to reconcile my childhood with this city.

And now, in these few brief moments, as I listened to the Paulin Brothers Brass Band play, I made peace with this city. Not only peace with New Orleans but peace with every aspect of my childhood there.

Good people live here. Not everyone that lives here is a drunk or drug addict. There are good churches here with good people who attend them. Hard working, dedicated people who love and care for their families reside here. Not every family is a freak show as I had so often felt of my own.



( Anderson Cooper's video crew on the River Walk lawn)

And no, I never did get to see Anderson Cooper that day. But I did get to see his team and talk to them. They said he had the night off for the holiday and that someone else would be doing his evening show. Oh well! :) Apologies to my Fox & Friends fans. You have to admit though, AC did a great job on the oil spill crises.


(myself looking at the Mississippi river bridge)

So, my story ends here. Does that mean this is the end of my blogging days? By all means no! For you see tomorrow is a new beginning. Tomorrow will bring new challenges, new joys, new sorrows, new opportunities to make peace with whatever it is that may trouble you. Folks, I am thankful that Jesus IS and will FOREVER be my bridge over troubled water!

To God be the glory!

"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."(John 10:10)

Blessings of peace and all that is good: Debra

19 comments:

Susan said...

What an awesome, inspiring and wonderful post. Thank you Debra for sharing YOU with us. YOU are indeed one very special woman and Child of God. I am honored to "know" you (at least through blogland). (((hugs)))

SHirley said...

Well, Hon, this was simply a wonderful and beautiful read this morning! I would say you finally came HOME! Big hugs to you!

Travis Cody said...

I don't remember how I found my way here, but I'm glad I did. Thank you for sharing these special moments.

Grayquill said...

A very nice post - since I was not here from the beginning I see there is much I do not know about Debra. Your post reminded me of the scripture where Joseph says to his bothers, 'you meant it unto evil but God meant it unto good'

Colleen said...

Great post! You shared from your heart! Whatever you do, keep sharing! Keep writing. It is soooo healing isnt it? God bless!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I'm so happy I found your blog! What an inspiration it is!

At almost 65 years old, I am now just beginning to make peace with my childhood of abuse and nightmares that still steal my sleep. But I know that He carries me over the troubled waters and heals me, often slower than I want, but throughout the process He gives me comfort, support, direction and peace.

Pat said...

Oh Debra, this was one of the most moving, meaningful posts I have ever read. I could feel your heart beat in every word, and I have been moved to tears.
Unspoken words have been spoken, and I too understand having to bury the past.
Don't ever stop writing...you have a calling and a message to tell.
Hugs!

Jen said...

Finally feeling a little better...loved the post, very insightful... I love you,
Jen

Kathryn Magendie said...

Oh, so many memories of South Louisiana! I lived in S la for many years -it's not where I am from, but I lived there a long time.

GMR is from New Orleans -his mother and father are buried there.

wonderful post.

Trish said...

How beautiful Debra! Putting the past behind and looking ahead is a gift from God...He makes us whole, He brings love and peace where there was none. Thank you for sharing your heart. I, felt your sadness turn to joy.
I will stop by more often...we are Sisters in Christ.
~blessings~

Sonja said...

What a beautiful heart tugging sharing Debra! And the very best part is your ending, which just means you have begun yet another chapter of this book God is writing on your life, one day at a time. I enjoyed every word...
Hugs!

Sonja

forsythia said...

What a lovely, lovely post. Thank you for sharing.

Judith said...

Debra,

I read this post the other day but didn't have time to respond. I'm reminded again as I read this tonight that this journey we are on is not what we were made for in the beginning. I love your courage - that you have kept pressing on. I'm so glad that you have found a closure.

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment at my latest post. I thought I had heard it all but was shocked by your experience. People. We can be so wonderful and yet such, well - knuckleheads!

Amrita said...

I loved thi s beautiful post Debra, the memories, healing, photos, music and the Cafe '.

God bless bless you as you move on. Thank you for sharing your heart.

Amrita said...

Was the famous Dr Paul Brand the founder of Carville Hospital? H e worke d in India for many years. Hi s parents were missionaries here.

goodnightgram said...

Debra: I've read this post twice, now and enjoyed it as much both times. Written from the heart with kernals of truth/life/healing for anyone who reads it, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing.

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Mimi said...

HI DEBRA!!!
I cannot believe I have not read this post before, must have been when I was busy this summer--- I WOULD HAVE MISSED out on something terrific if I missed this one.
THIS WAS GREAT!!
we all are imperfect and castoffs in some peculiar way. I thank you for writing such a personal statement, and one that brought tears to my eyes.
Loved every word, please keep blogging all your New beginnings!!
Love New Orleans as well, one of my top 5 fav cities!!!I hear OH NO Way FROM so many people--like my sis--she has never been, so how does she have an opinion???Except what she has heard, and I tell her she is 100% wrong!!
Hugs,
jamie

Finding Pam said...

Debra, this is an awe inspiring post. I relate to you on so many different levels.

I am thankful that you are healed from you painful childhood. You are a wonderful person. Thank you for sharing this with us.

God does indeed have a plan for all of us.