The Enchanted Self Visits New Orleans Part
I promised to tell you about the zoo animals in New Orleans. Actually, they did well during the hurricane. Our guide, Joe, told us that none were lost due to the care of the zoo keepers who stayed with them during the worst days. However, later on, after the crisis, the animals became very lethargic and just lay down and slept. Finally, someone cued them in that the animals were depressed. Why? Well they missed the visitors. The zoo was just too quiet. After that, volunteers were encouraged to come to the zoo after hours and soon the animals were up and about. They just needed company and I imagine, purpose, from their perspective. Things we all need!
I also promised to come back to you with how I managed to pull Enchantment from my visit to New Orleans. As I told you 85% of the city, according to my tour guide, is still basically out of commission. That is an amazing amount of space and people's lives disrupted. Where did I find hope and encouragement?
Here is one example. I was talking to a woman who was in the Convention Center for four days during the hurricane. She awoke one morning after a fitful sleep to find that the young woman near her who had two baby twins sleeping with her had died during the night-most properly of dehydration. One of the babies had died also. How did this woman go on emotionally after living through such devastating days where they all felt forgotten? Her warm manner and her loving nature quickly showed me that indeed the has. Her energy gave me hope and energy. She shared with me how she and her family have stayed together, how they go to church every week and pray fervently to God. She held my hand as I started to cry and reminded me of God's great love for us.
Before I conclude let me mention that I also learned that many people in New Orleans are hurting emotionally. There are not enough psychologists and psychiatrists around for everyone to talk to. One of the waitresses in my hotel told me that she wants and needs to talk to someone, as she is not sleeping well at night and still feels the burdens of Katrina. But she has no one to call upon. We must remember that much of medical community is not there. I'd like to think that my conversations with her were helpful. I can say, that truly, everyone who works in New Orleans does appreciate whatever business us outsiders bring in.
What have I learned from my visit to New Orleans? I learned from my friends who have lived in the area that what I saw is not the whole picture. They have been back three or four times this year and shared with me something I missed: The spirit that is there and the signs of re-birth. Although the government hasn't done enough, the people are coming back to many of the neighborhoods. There are hospitals up and running, for example, Slidell Hospital. Lots of people where the Fleur De Lit proudly on pins, hats, and banners. This is the local symbol of hope. There are new houses going up and the Home Depots have full lots of cars. There is life here!
I've learned that we are all capable of suffering-from the strongest person, to the tiniest animal. But I have also learned that we are resilient. For some people their faith keeps them strong. For some animals it is the companionship of people that keeps them upbeat. For some it is the helping hand of a stranger. So many strangers are coming to New Orleans to help and the means so much to the residents. For example, I was so thrilled to learned that one of my friends is going down to spend three days with Habitat for Humanity this fall. She and her husband and several other couples have made the commitment.
I learned that we must never forget those that suffer. We must all remember that we have gifts to give. I also learned that one picture is never the whole picture. I learned humility once again. I learned to keep trying and to keep giving.