Reviving After Mardi Gras
I love Mardi Gras! The music, the costumes, the people, the dancing in the street…It’s glamorous enough to make anyone’s inner drag queen emerge. But like any fabulous celebration, there may be nothing left afterwards but exhaustion and glitter. You might already have an amazing juice cleanse, workout routine, or method for renewing yourself physically. However, if you’re like me, you feel physically and emotionally drained after Mardi Gras, and you might be looking for ways to revive your spirit after the balls, parades, and parties have come to an end.
Here in New Orleans, the season leading up to Easter (Lent) can be a wonderful time to reconnect to practices in your life that revive your spirit and connect you to unconditional love and to peace. I was excited when I rst became the pastor at Metropolitan Community Church of New Orleans and learned that people here enjoy Taize.
I first learned about the practice of Taize when I was attending Claremont School of Theology (CST) in California. I was taking a course about contemplative spiritual practices. Each Friday night we had the opportunity to attend Taize. It was an incredibly healing and powerful experience to end a week of commuting and stressful graduate level studies (exams and papers) with singing, lighting candles, and experiencing peace. I loved that Taize was an ecumenical movement, attracting Protestants, Catholics, and all spiritual seekers. It reminded me of our own worldwide movement of Metropolitan Community Churches started in 1968, and our local church, people from many different religious traditions coming together as people of the transbilesbiangay community and allies who believe that unconditional love and social justice are the highest priority to loving our neighbor as ourselves.
I learned during my days at CST that hundreds of thousands of people travel to the Taize community in Burgundy France each year to experience prayer, study, sharing, and communal work with the focus to live in the spirit of kindness, simplicity, and sharing. I also learned that the Taize community was founded in 1940 by Brother Roger Schutz, a Reformed Protestant who was on his own quest to discover a different expression of the Christian life. Brother Roger purchased a home at that time which became a sanctuary from war refugees during WWII. During the next two decades, Brother Roger found others who were inspired by this ecumenical movement and wanted to join him. In the 1960s young adults from all over the world began to travel to Taize to meet and experience the unique manner of Taize worship and community. As I learned more, I found the Taize community inspiring, and our Friday Taize gatherings at CST to be reviving to my spirit. It was a deep joy to start participating in Taize here in New Orleans; to hear uplifting psalms, light candles, and sing…to feel peace surrounding me completely. Our Friday night, 7 pm Taize services here at MCC of New Orleans during the season of Lent leading up to Easter, became a time I anticipated eagerly all week. And because Friday evenings were a time that different people could come and participate in Taize, I was able to connect to new people as well.
Most importantly for me, Taize is another opportunity to simply encounter Divine love and peace through simple musical choruses and intentional time with your thoughts. If you’ve never experienced it or you just love Taize, we welcome you to join us on Fridays from 7 to 8 pm throughout the season of Lent, starting on Friday February 23rd until Friday March 23rd at 5401 S Claiborne Ave. Our Sunday services are at 10 am, and you can nd more information about us on our website at www.mccneworleans.com.
Perhaps for you, there are other ways that you revive your spirit after Mardi Gras. I encourage you to dive into those practices, to walk in beautiful places and watch sunsets, to create music and art, to spend time with the people who bring you joy…and I encourage you to look for ways to “sacrifice” by reaching out in love to others. When we care for our spiritual health, our physical and emotional health bene t as well, and our lives come into better overall balance. Loving acts of kindness are exponential in nature and create peace and harmony in our communities and our lives. So, after you celebrate Mardi Gras, reward your spirit by reviving and renewing it. I believe that you’ll be glad you did!