Where God Hangs Out

Stephanie Irving Blakes - Houston, Texas
Entered on October 31, 2006

Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in the eternal goodness of God. A god who goes by all names. I call him Jesus and Father. Others call him Jehovah and Muhammad and still others won’t say his name out loud at all. I do not think it matters so much what we call him as long as he hears from us.

I was born and raised in New Orleans, La., a city with, reportedly, the highest concentration of Catholics in the country. With the Les Bon Temps of New Orleans, the gambling boats and daiquiri shops, the adult only entertainment of the French Quarters and slumber of the front porches, I always wondered as a kid where God chose to hang out. Did God appreciate a good poor boy sandwich or did he love red beans and rice as much as I did. Did he stop on the corners in the French Quarters and throw a quarter in the hat of a trumpet player or hip-hop dancer or did he prefer the corner table at the House of Blues.

Well, I got my answer the morning of August 29, 2005 when my family watched as Hurricane Katrina destroyed all we remembered New Orleans to be. It did not take me long to learn what God liked about New Orleans and where he hung out. I learned that long before Katrina was even a breeze in the Gulf, God had already made plans to save what he loves about our city. God loves its people and their spirit. He loves our love for life and family and our gratitude to him no matter how bad things get for us. He loves the way we greet each other.

“How you doing, Darling?”

“Baby, I’m fine. I’m too blessed to complain.” Or simply, “I’m blessed.”

My family lost everything material as a result of Katrina’s wrath. But what we gained is more precious and more valuable than all the waterfront property the Gulf Coast can offer. We regained our faith. Not the faith you get by going through 12 years of Catholic school and church every Sunday and ashes on our forehead the day after Mardi Gras and giving up Chocolate and fried foods for lent. No, we regained the kind of faith that makes you wake up in a shelter smiling and thankful because you know God is there with you and has a plan for your life. We learned God is a real estate agent when you seek shelter and a head-hunter when you need a job and is even willing to work through FEMA, yes FEMA, sometimes.

Surviving Katrina was tough on my family. There were and still are many days when all we can do is put things in God’s hands. But through it all, we believe in God’s goodness. We believe that when you ask, he hears you and that no request is too big or too small. We believe God wants to hear from us. We believe he loves us, all of us regardless of where we live and what we call him and that even through the worst of times whatever the disaster may be, we believe, through our faith, that we are and will always be “blessed.”

Stephanie Blakes works in financial services in Houston. Although she has lived in Illinois, New York and Texas, she still considers New Orleans home. Blakes and her husband look forward to sharing the traditions of the city with their two children.