There is something about living below sea level in a city which has been submerged under water, nearly drowned, then wondrously resurrected that keeps a person from taking anything at all, for granted.

There is something about writing sermons in a city below sea level in which more than 1500 unprepared people perished in an unprecedented storm, that sharpens the senses and awakens the slumbering soul.

There is something about living a sinking city below sea level on the edge of a continent, one in which each summer the collective blood pressure mounts with the rising tides, that makes a person care—a lot.

There is something about a living in a city that survived a near-death experience and filled with people who lost every material thing they owned, that radically reorients one’s perspective. We have learned what we can live without. We have learned what we cannot live without.

There is something about building a house, buying a home, plowing a field, planting a garden, nurturing a family on a fragile coastline which is dissolving daily like sugar in hot tea, on soil with the consistency of coffee grounds, with a river on the right, a lake on the left, a swamp underneath, an encroaching ocean in front, that requires an unusual amount of faith. As we say in the Who Dat Nation, “You gotta have it!”

There is something about living in a sinking city where leading the news is the weather reporter’s spaghetti model projections of the tropical summer storms whose tendrils swirl like spiders across the Gulf. It has a way of bringing the natural world and all its splendor and danger right into one’s living room–the outside in.

There is something about living in a state of preparedness that turns you inside out—pumps the blood, sparks the senses, sensitizes a person to the suffering of one’s sisters and brothers, and stands a person in utter awe of the miracle of life on this precious planet.

There is something about New Orleans that makes this vibrant, epic city unlike any other, anywhere else in the world.

That’s why I wrote these sermons from below sea level.

Callie Winn Crawford
January 2019