Cajun Country
Issue 178 - Cajun Country

Last month, to celebrate Jan's birthday, we traveled to Lafayette, Louisiana. Our primary goal was simply to get away, relax, and eat lots of Cajun food. We did all that - but we experienced much more. Here we share some of our reflections.
The Saint in the Window
As we sat in the cathedral, one stained-glass window captured my attention. A haloed figure in bright red beckons another saint, obviously Peter, forward. With its left hand, the figure in red points the way to the mouth of the empty tomb.

But who is the figure in red? I first thought it was Mary Magdalene. According to the gospel of John, it was she he first discovered the empty tomb and ran to tell Peter “and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved” (John 20:1-2). Part of what fascinated me is that I can recall no other image showing Mary Magdalene leading the disciples to the empty tomb.

According to cathedral website, however, the disciple in red is actually John, the beloved disciple. (This should have come as no surprise: after all, the cathedral is the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.) As the gospel of John tells the story, John and Peter ran together to the tomb, but John was faster. He got their first and looked inside, but did not go in (20:3-5). The window depicts the moment when Peter arrives, and John beckons him forward – beckons him forward to see, and to believe.

But the window still intrigues. After Mary Magdalene told the two disciples about the empty tomb, she apparently returned with them; after they left, Mary remained at the tomb (20:10-11). It was there she encountered the risen Christ, and returned to the disciples proclaiming, “I have seen the Lord!” (20:18). Why are there so few depictions of Mary Magdalene as the first preacher of the resurrection, spreading the good news of the empty tomb and the risen savior?

At another level, however, Mary’s obscurity makes its own valid point. The saint in the stained glass is not there to call attention to himself, or to herself. The figure in red beckons Peter forward, pointing the way, inviting him to consider the mystery of the empty tomb. It beckons every cathedral visitor to do the same.

It is not the messenger who matters, but the message. In the Gospel of John itself, the beloved disciple is never named. What matters most is not his identity, but the testimony he offers, bearing witness to Christ (21:24).

Vacay or Pilgrimage?
It started out being a Bday vacay with no expectations except to get away, relax and enjoy what might come along. It ended up being a mini-pilgrimage with memorable excursions and ineffable inspirations.

I can't say that a Cajun shrimp po'boy is especially sacred (well, maybe to some Cajuns it would be) but it did open the senses to savory delights. The Olde Tyme Grocery is the go-to place; it definitely lives up to its reputation that draws natives and visitors alike.

The Lake Martin Rookery was another sensory experience -- the sounds of bull frogs, birds, and hidden critters in the swampy silence, indeterminate smells of swamp, the touch of humid air on the face, and just when you think you are in sensory overload, a dragonfly floats down and lands on your arm. Truly a mystical experience.

Spanish artist Salvador Dali has been known to tap the senses of art aficionados for decades. Unexpectedly, we found a magnificent exhibit of Dali's sketches and drawings, his interpretations of scenes in the Divine Comedy: the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradisio. The power of Dali's images draws the viewer into the experience of suffering, waiting, and celebrating.

And, with Bill, the worship experience at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral was impressive -- impressive to see as many attending a daily service as we see in San Antonio church on Sunday.

I once wrote (for a publication) that "A pilgrimage is a journey your soul needs to make, and when you let it, your body will take you there." Who knew that a Bday vacay would turn out to be a mini-pilgrimage?!
Some of our favorite memories in Lafayette, LA, were made here:
A Stairway to Heaven
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Copyright (c) 2018 Soul Windows Ministries
Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries