Walking with Thee

New Orleans, Louisiana

Godliness in New Orleans?

Visiting the French Quarter in New Orleans, your first impression may not be of God—with voodoo shops, streets named “Bourbon,” nude clubs and alcoholic beverages available most everywhere you turn, godliness seems not to be high on the list of the way to be in this city.

This is not to say that Christians cannot enjoy a day here. There is much to see and do, lots of great food to enjoy and if you like jazz music, it is everywhere. What Nashville is to Country, New Orleans is to Jazz.

Interesting contrast though, because Nashville is also deep in the south of our United States, but it is filled with Gospel artists. The Ryman Theater itself (the old Grand Old Opry), used to be a church. It was founded because the owner was first into the spirits of liquor more than the Spirit of God. When he was born-again, he sold his liquor business and poured the money he had made into God’s business instead.

Gospel music and Jesus Christ are not hard to find in the city of Nashville…New Orleans seems to be a different story, but is it?

French Donuts, So Good!

French Donuts, So Good! It was a quiet morning as we ventured down Bourbon Street and took in the sights and the sounds of this city. Being our first time here, we were not sure just what to do. With the recommendation of a friend, we found the Café Du Monde. A must do when visiting New Orleans for a good cup of coffee and some delicious, hot, powder-sugared French donuts called Beignets. After our donuts, and having signed up for a later bus tour of the city, we walked up and down the streets experiencing a quieter side of New Orleans. To be here during Mardi Gras would be something quite different, I’m sure.

Rue St. PhilipWe visited a little restaurant called “The Gumbo Shop” and found out just what a Po-Boy sandwich is and how tasty they can be! In the shops we saw the many strands of beads for sale and the feathery boas used during the festivities here. We walked and we took in the sights of New Orleans including the balconies and cafés and the street people. One woman, who admitted to being a street person, was glad to help us in our wanderings—sharing with us where the best places were to shop, and to listen to jazz music--for just a little bit of food money, if you please.

Burial Procedures

Tombs of New Orleans Once on our bus tour, we saw the many faces of New Orleans in the different home styles, different levels of wealth, and also the different cemeteries this city is famous for. The dead cannot be buried under the ground here because of the high water level. If you were to dig just three feet under dry ground, you would hit water. All the dead are buried in above ground tombs, and quite ornate ones at that! There is a long history behind them and with an experienced guide; many things can be learned about the burial practices that are now many centuries old.

New Orleans at Night

Our day in the city seemed to pick up speed with the arrival of nighttime. The city started to come alive and we realized that many had probably enjoyed this “aliveness” last night, and that is why we didn’t see them this morning when we arrived in the city. They, unlike us, were sleeping.

With dinner reservations and a jazz show to be looked forward to, we moved into the evening excited at what we were to enjoy. The Ranger in the National Park right there in the French Quarter of New Orleans had given us a recommendation for the “Palm Court.” She said it was one of her favorite places to go and enjoy some good music. We were not disappointed.

The dinner was wonderful--served slowly but efficiently so as to enjoy the evening while listening to a five-piece band playing traditional jazz favorites, and whatever requests the audience might have had. The interesting thing was that these five men do not play together every night, and for some it was the first time they had met. We witnessed the drummer giving his business card to the piano player, in introduction. Did this make any difference in the quality of music? Absolutely not. It actually made it more interesting to watch them work together for the first time, and so expertly.

This seemed to be some good clean fun to be had in New Orleans. Away from the ugliness that can be found elsewhere in the French Quarter, and into just the enjoyment and pure delight of good food and good music which combined for a wonderful evening of entertainment.

Where is God in New Orleans?

Palm Court Can God be found in New Orleans? He was on this night as the requests offered up by the audience included “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.” The band did not hesitate as they began to play and to sing and to perform their solos through every different part of this song. They seemed to be enjoying it more than any song they had done so far, putting their all into it, and lifting themselves and the audience out of a normal jazz concert and into a spiritual side of jazz that would make God smile.

If Jesus were to have walked into the “Palm Court” on this night, as this song played, I have to believe that He would have been pleased. In a city where sin abounds, His name and His reason for being were being displayed. It may have been a small gesture in a large city with many wayward people, but where “two or more are gathered,” He is there.

A Walk With Thee

Walking back to the ferry that crosses the Mississippi that night, this song still filled my thoughts. “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” was just how I wanted to be with my Lord--and it is possible in New Orleans just as it is any place in America. God is not lost to us even in sin-filled cities. He is anywhere people long to draw close to Him.

New Orleans, Louisiana, or Nashville, Tennessee-- God is alive and well to those who love Him. No darkness or evil or voodoo can quench the Light of our Living God!