“ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”-John 10:10
We are in the middle of Mardi Gras season here in Southeast Louisiana. When I moved here from Texas eight years ago, I had no concept of Mardi Gras. It is not a one-day celebration, but a seasonal festival. Carnival season starts with the selection of the Royalty for each parade (there are currently over eighty Krewes on the North Shore and South Shore which have their own parades) and the majority of the parades run in the final two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras day (also known as Fat Tuesday).
Most people love a parade. The music, the floats, and the dance teams all melding together to form the celebration and Mardi Gras takes it to a whole other level. Some of the bigger parades can have up to thirty floats, with well-known celebrities riding in the parade. There are the high school and college bands from all over the country who march, play and have the crowds dancing on their feet. And of course, there are the throws. What is a throw? To be honest, it is cheap plastic trinkets from beads to stuffed animals, which are tossed from the floats to the crowds. And people act like they are precious and rare commodities, scrambling to catch or pick up the items off the ground. I am a little amused at the passion some parade goers exhibit in order to obtain throws during Mardi Gras season.
As I move through my ninth Mardi Gras season, I have come to realize there are similarities to attending a parade and living life. What if I approached every day as if I was going to a parade?
Anticipation-There is preparation and planning needed when going to a parade. Where will I set up, what do I bring, how long will I stay, and do I have a plan for my physical needs (food, water, bathroom, elements, etc)? Next is the excitement factor. I know what to expect and look forward to the sights, sounds, and smells on the parade route. Oh, how I look forward to some good Jambalaya and King Cake! Another key component is location, location, location. Who wants to be ten deep in a shoulder to shoulder crowd? My husband is a seasoned pro at parading and he has the contacts for locations on the parade route and how to get around the crowds by using back roads and knowing when streets are closed down for the festivities.
I find living my life is like the anticipation of a parade. I find myself preparing and planning for my daily agenda starting with prayer and journaling. It helps me focus on what I need mentally and spiritually to face the day. I plan for my family’s physical needs and try and keep our home a safe refuge from the ugliness in the world. I find planning ahead lays a good foundation to face the day to day hurdles and activities.
Being present-When I hear the sirens from the police and fire trucks (who generally lead the parade and alert the crowd it is about to commence) I focus on the moment. The sounds of the piped in music from the floats and the reverberation of the marching bands gives me goosebumps and fills my heart with joy. I watch the children on the shoulders of dad’s and big brothers trying to catch a trinket or beads to put in their goody bags. The smiles, laughter, and screams of delight coming from the crowd make me smile. The atmosphere is full of excitement and positive vibes. Then the last float goes by and it is over. A little sadness fills the air as I want there to be one more float. A deep sigh escapes my lips and I start to remember the excitement I recently experienced.
I am reminded I should also be present in my life. There will be joy, excitement, laughter, and delight which I should embrace and soak into my soul. I should not worry what could be around the corner; fear, sadness, grief, and disappointment. Life is made up of all these emotions and in order to be present, I have to face and live through the good as well as the bad.
Fellowship-A parade consists of a crowd of people. We generally meet some of our friends or family will come into town and join us, and it is a great way to get away from technology and focus on relationships. We generally have to arrive several hours before the parade starts in order to get set up and avoid street closures. While waiting for the parade it is custom to get to know the people around you, find out if they are local or out of town, what did they bring to eat, and what has been their favorite parade. It is not uncommon by the time the parade rolls; we are sharing food, helping each other catch throws, and hosting our own dance party.
God is about relationships and so is life. God made us social in order to interact and take care of one another. This is why I am involved in a church and volunteer so I can fellowship with others. I am amazed how moving to Louisiana eight years ago has afforded me new friends and relationships I would have not developed if I had not followed God’s lead. I look forward to how my community will continue to grow in the future due to new connections with others.
Life is like a parade. It is totally worth the anticipation, the experience, the relationships, and the memories. If you ever have the opportunity to come down to Southeast Louisiana and experience Mardi Gras, I highly recommend it. There are many family friendly parades all over the area and you can learn the history of the parades and get more details at http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/parades.html. Blessings and Happy Mardi Gras!