Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Nudging and NOLA

Wait. I haven’t posted in how long? Yikes. I’ve been in a funny place. Not funny haha. Just funny. Curious. Peculiar. I’ve been in this oddball holding pattern waiting for God to nudge, push, or drag me somewhere. Trying to be content and enjoy myself and feed my soul and not freak out.

I suppose I’m learning to wait.

And then a few weeks ago …

A routine meeting left me with a peace I hadn’t felt in a while. Hmmm. That’s nice. I like that feeling. The next day a random letter in the mail prompted me to act and start asking questions. What if? Can I? I had assumed the schedule wouldn’t work out.

Never assume.

So ... the day after being at church for the better part of 8am to, I don’t even remember, 9 or 10pm-ish (these things happen when you’re called upon to provide a little “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” action followed by a concert where you’re the one who knows the artist) … I packed my car and headed south. Dressy, casual, beach bag, compression gear, shake mix, caffeine, and various randomness because I had no idea what I would need or what I would be doing. Or what I might do next for kicks. I like to be prepared like a good boy scout. There is an entire tote bag of just shoes in my car.

I lived in the New Orleans area a couple times for work in the 90s. I had an apartment in the suburbs and drove upriver a bit to my job at a major petrochemical plant. I went downtown only on occasion and only after studying the map carefully to make sure I wouldn’t get lost. Bear with me a moment, kids. This was before smart phones, or even dumb phones, before GPS, before Google Maps. I studied a paper map of the city.

I still got lost once in the Desire projects trying to get to a Radney Foster concert at Mudbugs on the West Bank with my friend, Charlene. Yes, that takes talent. Yes, I have it. In my defense I had a super busy day at work with no time to study the map. I was told Desire was only the second worst project in New Orleans, though. What a comforting thought that those people gathered around the crack houses probably wouldn’t mess with me. Because they were only the second worst.

Fast forward to last week. I arrived in New Orleans Tuesday night, sharing a hotel room with one of my Ragamuffiny friends on the same quest … meeting up with our friends shooting an indie film about Brennan Manning. We really didn’t know what to expect, we just knew we were supposed to be there. We hoped we wouldn’t be in-the-way groupies hanging around.

It was nothing of the sort. We were very much needed and put to work. Praise Jesus.

God will provide. Sometimes you’re the provider and don’t even realize it.

My friend’s special skill is photography, so she shot a ton of stills that can be used for marketing, etc. My special skill, as it turns out, is … even though it’s been nearly twenty years since I lived in NOLA … I kind of sort of remember in general how to get around the city, and with the aid of GPS on a smart phone, I’m golden. Depending on the phone, but that’s another story. New Orleans is the city where you can always make a u-turn. And often you have to. Everyone survived the week unscathed.


Unscathed, but the first time I crossed Desire Street I might have had some PTSD flashbacks. Yes, we went to the 9th ward. We went all over the place. Jenn’s Taxi Service was in heavy rotation. There were plenty of other production assistant duties … fancy words for fetcher of drinks and Mucinex, holder of random schtuff, bouncer / public relations for random passers-by.

(Quietly with a smile …) “Hey, would you mind walking around? We’re filming right now.”
“What are you filming?”
“Just a little indie film.”       
If I hadn’t felt – and heeded – that nudge, I would have missed all this.  Meeting up with friends, making new ones, and trying something completely new.

I did take some time afterward to drive through my old neighborhood, past my old workplace, and onward to the beach for a couple days in Gulfport. The sand was nice, but I wasn’t really finding my Zen, so I moved on partway up the road. Trying to follow that prompting / nudging thing again. Nashville awaits me tomorrow.

In some ways it seems foolish to think that God is in the details to the level of what should I do at every waking moment. In other ways, God is in control of the details. He has made himself known multiple, multiple times on this journey, sometimes in the mundane.

On the drive south the other day, I kept seeing this wispy cloud ahead. Everywhere. Always. I felt a little bit like one of the Israelites.

“Oh, hey, I see you there. Hi.”

Then when Nashville called the other day to say, “Hey girl, my meeting at church got moved, so why don’t you spend an extra day at the beach,” I let it sit for a day or so. And then noise, heat, discontent, and a general lack of Zen prompted me to choose a shorter drive tomorrow versus more sand.

I am digging the Zen in this hotel room. They put me on the executive floor. Where you have to use your room key to make the elevator go that far. They called to make sure I was happy with the room. And housekeeping stopped by with a welcome gift of bottled water and a Toblerone. Score.

They even let me check in a little early. I was going to hang at Starbucks in Gulfport for a while before starting my drive. But there was not a table to be found. While I was waiting on my venti iced green tea, I looked around for possibilities. I said to a gentleman seated nearby who caught my gaze, “I’m just trying to figure out who I’m going to be friends with so I can find a seat.” He chuckled. But no one budged. No one offered just a teeny little space at their table. The lady in one of the comfy chairs had kind of looked like she was moving on, but no. Southern hospitality. Hmmpfff.

It was Starbucks near the interstate. Probably a bunch of Yankees on the road stopping for some wifi and caffeine. We’ll call it that.

On down the road I went. Thinking maybe I’d find somewhere to stop along the way, or maybe I’d see if I could check in early. The clouds were looking pretty funky. I played the what-shape-is-that-in-the-sky game. And I was reminded of the wispy Israelite cloud from last week.

God leading the way. Nudging me to the next place. As the miles went by, I finally realized it was going to storm. I hate driving in the rain. I do it, because, well, you know, life. But I’m not a fan.

Other than about twelve drops of rain on the windshield, I made it to my stopping point in dry conditions. It wasn’t until after I was comfortably in my hotel room that thunderation began and the radar looked a little ugly.

Okay, thanks, I got it. If you could just keep nudging me so obviously all the time, that’d be great.

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