Wednesday, November 30, 2005

B.K. and A.K.

If you haven't looked at my blog for awhile, you may be surprised to see it has a new name. Yes, it is still Pastor Kathy's blog, but Pastor Kathy has been through some changes since her last post in June.

For one thing, in July I left the small-town church I had served for more than four years. It was not a happy departure. I have learned in the last few months that there are a lot of ministers out there whose first pastorate out of seminary was, shall we say, difficult. It's a complicated topic and one I don't plan to deal with in this blog. Suffice it to say I learned a lot from the experience, both good and bad.

So, I was boogeying along, looking for another church, starting to wrap up my business in the small town. The ecclesial authorities told me to go take this week-long class to be qualified to work as an interim minister -- the one who serves a church while they are looking for a new "permanent" minister. And that's what I was doing when life as we knew it in my part of the world ended forever.

When I left New Orleans on a hot, sunny Friday morning at the end of August, a TV news truck passed me on the interstate. I figured they were on their way to Florida to cover this hurricane that had just crossed south Florida as a category 1 and was expected to make another landfall around Apalachicola as a category 2. And that was my last thought about it until the next morning, in Atlanta, when someone called me and asked what I was doing about the hurricane.

WHAT hurricane? And suddenly this minor storm cutting across south Florida was a category 5 hurricane headed right for New Orleans. And my cats were locked up in my house, expecting someone to come over and feed them twice a day until I got back.

There was no turning around and going home. The interstates had all been redirected to head out of town. There were a couple of two-lane highways still open into the city, but where was I going to find gas? I almost did go home. I thought seriously about filling a bunch of five-gallon gas cans, putting them in the back of my SUV, and going home for the cats, probably asphyxiating myself in the process. Over the next several days, I wished over and over again that I had. But instead I went on to my conference in North Carolina and stayed there for the most horrible week of my life, not knowing what was going on at my home. Was there water up to the roof? Did the whole block burn to the ground? Did the looters break in and trash the house and kill my cats?

The short answer is "No." And ten days after the storm, I was able to slip into the closed city and rescue my felines. Sadly, a lot of people did have water up to their roofs, and some did have their homes burn to the ground. The looters for the most part were breaking into commercial establishments, not into private homes. (And if you think this would never have happened in your town, I beg to differ. What happened in New Orleans is what would happen anywhere if you were actually able to cut off the supply of illegal substances coming into the community. When the substance abusers ran out of substances, they went nuts. And they didn't get those automatic weapons in Wal-Mart. They already had them.)

So, life for me -- and for all of us affected by the storm -- is now divided into two time periods: Before Katrina and After Katrina, B.K. and A.K. for short. We have all been changed forever by this experience. Whatever our plans were B.K., they're different now. Our priorities, too.

So this blog, formerly known as A View from the Other Side of the Hill, is now The Daily Cattown News, in honor of my first journalistic effort when I was eight years old. I have left the small town of my first parish ministry to live in the Uptown New Orleans house that once was my grandmother's. At the moment I don't have a job. God will provide, in God's own time. My next job may be another parish in ministry, or it may be something else. In the meantime, I am back at the kitchen table, writing. And preaching from time to time. And ministering to folks whose lives, like mine, have been changed forever. Stay tuned.

Pastor Kathy