13 03 2010

Susan is right.  It has been a blessed and holy busy time for us in New Orleans! We are just getting into the swing of Spring Break and all the Alternative Spring Break-ers it brings from all the corners of the nation.

I got to thinking that an alternative Spring Break in New Orleans is deceiving.  First, what’s so alternative about working hard and having fun with all your friends and others your age? Second, the weather (with some exception) is fantastic!  You can sit out on your porch or deck and bask in the sun obtain all your needed  Vitamin D. Last, New Orleans is a real touristy town with sites to see, entertainment to be a part of, and “locals” to experience.

Yes.  These Alternative Spring Break trips run the risk of not being alternative at all… that is, when we forget why we have come.

Most of the high school and college students who come are here because someone else they knew had a good experience and felt useful to someone other than themselves. Group after group, people come to be changed.  New Orleans does that.  Working alongside others does that.  Sharing a meal with others does that.

This race could also be deceiving… set in the beautiful contours of New Orleans in the early spring, this 70.3 IronMan is the fastest course and serves as an IronMan qualifier.  Yet, swimmers still must successfully swim 1.2 miles in Lake Pontchartrain in the company of hundreds around them.  Bicyclists must bike 56 miles in and around New Orleans East with limited people and natural beauty to keep them distracted and/or encouraged.  Runners must still run 13.1 miles as the fanciful City Park and Esplanade Ridge offer an enchanting backdrop to their pace.

Yet, all these athletes have their reasons for participating.  Some are racing because they have volunteered many times over the past 54 months to assist in the rebuilding.  Some are racing because this is home and they wanted a personal challenge.  And some are racing because someone simply asked if they would.

However we got to rebuilding this city or participating in this race, neither experience is a joke or something to be taken lightly.

I am continually impressed by the commitment people make to others during this incredibly trying time in the Nation’s history.  We are in the middle of a huge waiting game.  Waiting to rebuild.  Waiting for funds.  Waiting to get this race over with.  Waiting to pass my comprehensive exams or to graduate. Waiting for my hurting body to feel better.  Waiting for my family to come together again.  Waiting…

Some are even waiting for God, too.  Or perhaps… we must wait with God.

Allow God to be present with you as you train, as you re-build, as you endure.  Be with God in that space, and together, wait in hope for the coming of the kin-dom.  And may God’s presence bring much anticipated peace… the peace that is beyond all understanding, as we all continue to challenge ourselves to do our part diligently, respectfully, and harmoniously.

Jocelyn A. Sideco, Spiritual Coach and Executive Director of Contemplatives in Action




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