I moved from Massachusetts to New Orleans in the year 2000. Arriving in this city felt, in so many ways, like coming home to Madrid. I had lived in Madrid for many years, and missed it dearly. Here I found a home that felt foreign but was deceivingly close to my family in the United States. Five years later, Hurricane Katrina swept through and changed the city, and each of us in it. I have a small piece of brick that currently holds a not-so-dignified placement somewhere in the jumble of things in my bathroom closet. The brick fragment took up residence there in 2006. In that year, New Orleans had such a long way to go to recover that having hope was both crazy and necessary. I got the brick one Sunday that year. I walked down the center aisle of Rayne Memorial United Church holding the hands of my 3- and 4-year-old children, and we each reached into a basket and pulled out a piece of the ruins of the church’s steeple. The bricks had been collected by hand from St. Charles Avenue, scattered all around the roof that Katrina had destroyed. We were to keep the bits of brick until the steeple was rebuilt and the sanctuary opened. On July 22, 2007, the sanctuary was re-dedicated and we all walked back up the aisle to return the brick pieces for use in building a prayer garden. I kept one little piece of it…and it reminds me that there is always hope.
– Melissa Erekson