Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Orleans: The Rising Phoenix

As a native Georgian  whose state logo is the phoenix rising from the ashes I know a little something about rebirthing. And New Orleans is a city that has done exactly that. It has come back from the devastation of Katrina. Not only was I able to attend the Unitarian Universalists of Color Retreat as I shared in a previous post, but I also stayed over to attend worship service at First Unitarian Church on the following Sunday. In addition I witnessed the St. Patrick's Day Parade and have a ton of beads for my efforts. Rev. Melanie insists that I lost my mind but I was merely following the old adage, "when in Rome do as the Romans do." I got into a participatory mode. I also witnessed one of the most incredible sights that I had heard about but never had the privilege to see - and that is the Mardi Gras Indians. There is controversy about how the ritual got started. Some say when Buffalo Bill came to New Orleans and African Americans witnessed his costumes and parade that they imitated it. Others contend that out of tribute to Native Americans that embraced them and took them in as escapees from slavery they embraced the custom of dressing for one day a year and masking as Indians in elaborate costumes. Whatever the origins it has survived and evolved and represents the transformation of a violent gang culture to one of non-violent competition.

The costumes are true works of art that have now been recognized as folk art.. See the pictures below for evidence of the craftsmanship.

A local artist depicted Katrina in 3 stages in this stained glass - pre- Katrina, during Katrina and post Katrina at First Unitarian Church of New Orleans .

 A close up of Katrina and devastation as portrayed in this scene

 The bright white line in the middle of the wall is the water mark from Katrina.

These walls were redone (the lower section) from salvaged wood from the church after Katrina.

  L-R Revs. Clyde Grubbs and Melanie Morel-Ensminger

 L-R Rev. Marta and Rev. Melanie
L-R  Gwendolyn Dunnigan and Rev. Deanna Vandiver
L-R Rev. Gordon Bailey and Gwendolyn Dunnigan

L-Janice Marie, Taquiena, Rev. Hope and Rev. Marta

L-R Janice Marie Johnson, Taquiena Boston, Rev. Hope Johnson, Rev. Marta Valentin, Rev. Melanie Morel-Ensminger and yours truly, Rev. Qiyamah A. Rahman

May the blessings of this great city continue to pour out abundantly on these brave and persistent people as they seek to reclaim their beloved City and recover from the adversity of Katrina while holding onto the beauty of their culture.

Blessings Rev. Qiyamah


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