Abundant Life? – Day 6
Strangely enough, it seems that as Rhyan and I traverse the country, we are bringing with us the thunder and rain and clouds and cold. As I sit in Austin to write this, a place that is reputed to NEVER rain, it is in fact, pouring outside and everyone keeps commenting on how this is so unusual. What is going on??
But enough about the weather.
We left Fort Pickens bright and early, continuing our trek west to Louisiana. As we drove, the scenery outside our windows gradually morphed into sadder and sadder landscapes. We started driving through neighborhoods and streets that were so impoverished: tiny houses, abandoned and dilapidated structures, rusted out cars, and littered gutters. It was humbling to recognize the incredible wealth we are surrounded by in northern Virginia and even more so to see how deep and far-reaching the poverty is here in our own country. But in the middle of all this, we came across a church called The Abundant Life Church. It sparked a conversation about what abundant life is and what that looks like, especially in an area like the one we were driving through.
We have a very clear idea of what we think abundant life looks like in our own lives. We believe in abundant joy and peace, living in community and building relationships, using our skills and our passions in a way that glorifies God. But driving through Mobile, Alabama, made us question if our idea is driven by the fact that we are in want of nothing. We are incredibly privileged and can choose to take time to make music, make art, travel, “enrich” ourselves. But what could abundant life even begin to look like in a place so impoverished and abandoned? How would the people here define abundant life and how do we reconcile our different understandings of it? This is something that Rhyan and I have had many conversations about in the past and we were encouraged to see our hearts starting to change perspective; to change focus. This is only the beginning of our trip, and this conversation.
Our time in New Orleans was fun, though, and staying with Wendy was a great reunion for Rhyan. We got in around lunch-time and walked the French Quarter – chowing down a gator burger and boudin at the Market! Yum yum! We then got to meet up with Wendy at her job – on set for a sizzle reel featuring the New Orleans School of Cooking – & enjoyed some delicious pralines. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the bustling streets, walking along the water – including a sing-a-long with our newest band member, some quick shopping, and authentic NOLA dinner on a rooftop balcony with a view of the Mississippi River. Thank you for opening your home to us, Wendy!
^^^ Adorable & colorful French Quarter architecture
^^^ Best gator burger I have ever had.
^^^ Lamposts & Horses
^^^ Newest bandmate! We chatted for a while and when he learned we were fellow musicians he insisted we do a song together. We sang every verse of I’ll Fly Away (in the Morning) and loved every bit of it!
The people in New Orleans struck us as incredibly transient & nomadic. I guess we fit right in, but it also made it pretty easy to leave behind. Lates, NOLA!
Great thoughts Mel. I love reading about your trip!
On Abundant Life – It’s pretty disarming, almost alarming, that when Jesus starts talking about those who are “blessed” in Luke 6, he talks about the poor, the hungry, those who weep, and those who are hated because of Jesus. He contrasts them with “woe” (not judgment as much as “alas”, or “oh how sad”) for the rich, the full, those who laugh, and those who everyone says great things about. In a sense, those of us who have a lot of things and attempt to squeeze life out of those things end up missing the real life God longs to give us. I want to stand with the weak, the poor, the hungry, those who weep… It is there we can find abundant/eternal life that supplies every need.
It’s true! It can be challenging though to stand with the poor and the hungry when we still have so much and they have so little! I think that key is the whole “poor in spirit” idea of generosity and keeping a loose grip on our materials. But it’s a hard lesson to learn! Thanks for your thoughts!