“Grateful-Grateful—Gratefulness—is flowing from my heart.” The refrain the gospel choir frequently sings in my nearby African-American parish underscores my remembrances and narratives about a fall that necessitated a recent trip to the ER. My feet somehow entangled themselves in a neighborhood grocery cart. I fell backward, my head bouncing once with a sickening, terrifying thud on the parking lot, my left elbow absorbing part of the impact.
Immediately folks of all ages, genders and ethnicities rushed to my assistance, retrieving my purse and two small bags; offering help in getting me upright, a chair inside the store, a glass of water, a bag of ice for the knot on the back of my head. Their empathy palpably cushioned my distress.
Dismissing their repeated offers to call for an ambulance, I phoned Sr. `Mary Ann Culotta. She immediately changed her plans and drove me to the ER. The medical team kindly tended my bruises and, within an hour, tendered the good news: a scalp contusion (bruise), not a brain concussion. Sr. Ceal Warner retrieved my car. What an unexpected but gratefully received conclusion to a day that began with our leisurely morning in St. Bernard civil parish. While driving to swamp-surrounded Shell Beach I shared my original EMD congregation’s 60+ year history of ministry in three parishes, my current monthly faith formation sessions with a small group there, and the availability of a lovely home for private retreats.
Mary Ann told of falling outside a bank in San Francisco when she was a graduate student several decades back. She said, “I felt like I was invisible. Not one person offered to help me.” How vastly different my experience! My white hair was surely not the crucial factor in our disparate experiences. I’m inclined to credit southern hospitality, New Orleanians’ innate religiosity, and my nearby Dominican sisters, for the redemption I was granted. What a gift to be able to name and sing about the falls into grace that uphold each of us through our daily ups and downs.