The old woman on the corner stops me on my way to work.
She has eyes like fog lights in the middle of the rain
and smiles like someone with secrets.
The old woman knows me better than I do.
The old woman asks what I’m so afraid of.
Truth is, I tell her,
the storm that hung back all winter finally
rolled into the space beneath my ribs and I
am shouting thunderclaps from my mouth
just to stop the water level rising.
I’m still chasing a ghost and I will never be proud of that.
I know what you’re thinking, but
boys with the sky in their lungs are bad for you,
and I’ve been shotgunning ozone off his kisses so long,
I forgot how to breathe.
you can listen to your heart,
but you can’t lead with it.
And I think I’ve spent my whole life
with my heart out in front of me.
I tell her,
he was all pebbled clouds
and spoonfuls of starlight.
I tell her,
I loved him and I was so afraid.
She holds my hand so softly, and smiles
one step at a time
like a roadmap unfolding.
The fear is good, little lightningstorm,
The fear is good.
Campbell traveled to Atlanta for a meeting the week before Katrina, and she left instructions not to use the school as a shelter because there would be no one there in charge. As the storm approached, only three Carmelite sisters remained in the Motherhouse.
When water started rising, Campbell’s instructions went by the wayside. Several neighbors got inside the school and hunkered down. As floodwaters continued to rise, the neighbors moved to the upper floors. They ultimately flagged down a boat and helped get the nuns out of the Motherhouse.
"All this time, I was watching reports on TV about the flood. I kept trying to get out of Atlanta, but I couldn’t," Campbell says. "Finally, I got to Jackson, Mississippi, and rented a car so I could drive to Baton Rouge. Then Hurricane Rita hit. A few days later, I managed to drive to New Orleans and get past the National Guardsmen — you know, that old ‘the good sister needs to see her convent’ routine still works — so I could see our school."
What she saw when she arrived was so upsetting that she refused to let parents or students get close. In fact, there was a moment — just one — when Campbell wondered whether the school should even attempt to reopen.
"We knew it was going to be bad because we had seen pictures," she recalls. "But seeing it in person was just heartbreaking. The water was still not out. There were people in boats going up and down Milne Avenue. The whole place was a mess."
Then, two days after her return, Campbell was hospitalized. During the protracted and stressful evacuation, her inability to get regular doses of her heart medication had taken a toll. When she came out of the hospital, she steeled herself for the long and difficult road ahead.
"People asked me, ‘What are we going to do?’" she says, admitting that she wasn’t sure herself at the time. "So I just told them, ‘We have to fix it. If we don’t have the faith to rebuild our school, if the sisters don’t have faith in our community, it puts a big ‘X’ across Lakeview.’ And we just couldn’t do that."
A beautiful story about the determination of a Carmelite sister and the rebuilding of Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Another notable piece from the article:
Among all those blessings, one stands out for students, parents, even construction workers: the school’s religious statues all survived intact. “Every statue on our campus survived the flood — and was standing erect when we returned,” Campbell says. “The statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which stands in front of the campus facing Robert E. Lee Boulevard, floated up with the rising water and then back down, erect, right next to its pedestal,” she says solemnly. “And it was still facing Robert E. Lee Boulevard.”
She pauses, then adds for emphasis, “One foot away from her pedestal.”
Simno describes another statue of the Blessed Mother, “one that was light enough for our younger students to carry,” which she says remained on its pedestal, covered in muck and weeds, but unmoved from its perch despite being lightweight. “It was totally submerged in 10 feet of water, yet it never moved,” Simno says. She adds that one of the school’s contractors, a trash hauler from Houston, decided to take the Mt. Carmel job after seeing all the school’s statues right where they belonged shortly after the flood. “He called his wife and said, ‘I have to take this job. There’s something special about this place.’”
WHILE SHOWING A VISITOR AROUND CAMPUS recently, Campbell pauses in front of the school’s coat of arms, which hangs outside the assembly center. Mt. Carmel’s Latin motto, translated, reads, “With zeal am I zealous for the Lord God of Hosts.” As she reaches for a door to enter the building, she turns and says, “This has taken a lot of zeal.”
I remember hearing this on the radio as we were in the car bugging out.
When I heard this I thought my life in New Orleans was over.
I bartended a wedding that night. Got home at 1am & slept for 4 hours. Packed up half my life and evacuated to family in Jacksonville, Florida at 530am.
Following in the vein of my “Walk On It" response, I did the Art Assignment "Imprint" slowly and without many expectations. I finally completed it, using some cut flowers I had been gifted for a recent birthday. I sliced orchids, chrysanthemums, roses, and a carnation sliced in half with a straight blade in several different directions and used three paint colors (red, blue, and green) I happened to have on hand. Before beginning, I thought I would leave the prints relatively separate of one another, but shortly after starting I decided to purposefully overlap them, since so much of the project (such as the shapes created) was out of my control anyway. While I let the occasional one maintain its shape pretty independently, letting it become a busier print left me less room to be overly critical of it.
(Kristen, she, etc.)
Was not expecting to see Kristen on John Green’s tumblr.
This pleases me.