Season in Louisiana. The French tradition of Mardi Gras is upon us. Children are
out of school for three days, businesses close to accommodate throngs of parade
goers, and noisy revelers dance in the street.
My cousin, a
snowbird from Indiana, is visiting. I encouraged her to come this week, so we
could “pass a good time”. Sunday we hit the parade route to see the
Children’s Parade. A first time Carnival goer, it was fun to see the foolishness afresh from her perspective.
to the floats arrival, police stand in groups of two or three encouraging the
swell of people to stand behind protective barricades. Their cruisers block the
intersections, flashing a constant blue strobe adding to the organized chaos.
ride past on bikes, down the empty pavement lined with partiers. They stop to
visit with the police. The woman wears jeans and a t-shirt while the man sports a black
full body cycler’s suit, rainbow wig, and black face. Behind his ten-speed, he
drags a child’s wagon with some serious stereo equipment pumping '80's tunes. Children
wear hats that light up and dogs trot past in tutus. A vendor pushes a cart
selling glow in the dark wands and feather boas. A vibration and cheer snakes
down the street. “It’s coming! The parade’s started!”
Two hours of
floats filled with Boy Scouts and family kewes, alongside organizations devoted
to excess. Interspersed with dance teams are convertibles caring Little Mr.
or Miss Whatever pageant winner. I haven’t been to a parade in years.
Lundi Gras—Monday, rain mixed
with cold breezes licked the area. We took our revelry inside to the local
civic center for the Costume Promenade. I wanted to give my cousin a close-up
view of the sequined gowns, satin, beaded tuxes and huge feathered headdresses.
I’d never been to one of these events, a veritable who’s who of people in the
community. From our perch in the balcony, we spent an hour and a half watching the royalty dance down the
runway while an announcer gave important info on where people graduated from
high school. Slipping out early, we detoured down a hall and walked into the
staging area, getting a glimpse of how the royals sweat. Up close, we oohed and
ogled the participant’s over-the-top evening attire and won the title “feather
afternoon, we dined early at a café on the parade route and poised ourselves to
stand in the cold to watch the Krewe of Krewe Parade. “Throw me something,
Mister.” Seasoned now, my cousin hooted and waved, securing two more gallon Ziploc bags of beads to pack in her suitcase.
beginning of Lent, a time in the church community of reflection and self-denial.
I think I’ll give up parades.
Along with my
family and writing, prison ministry is my passion. In January I was elected
President of the Board for The Open Door Women’s Prison and Re-Entry Ministry. I
am honored, as I serve alongside some amazing women. Masters in their faith, I have grown to realize the meaning of the church. From differing denominations
and faith backgrounds we come together in holy service. Christ’s hands and feet
on the ground, working with the least of
these who made choices that landed them in jail.
The scope of what’s about to happen
within the Re-Entry mission field is exciting, but frustrating as
well. Within days of accepting my present position, the Board was told the
building where we've had our offices since 2006 is being sold. We have to the end of
February to relocate. Meeting on a weekly basis for the past month,
the volunteers who serve The Open Door have worked enthusiastically as we see
God’s vision unfold in dynamic ways. Enlarging our vision to meet God’s has been the
At church yesterday and repeated again in my morning Upper Room devotional was the theme to show God's awesome grace and love to everyone we come into contact: the surly checker at the grocery store, the man who cut me off in traffic, those who have hurt me. Sometimes, I have to be reminded the point of my existence and my passion. I must go, now, one of TOD's Re-entered Citizens is waiting for the Spirit of Christ to drive up with skin on.