Filed Under:  Opinion

Flying constantly into the teeth of life

27th August 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

Deplaning at Love Airport in Dallas after attending the memorial for Earline, the wife of Dr. James Perry, D.D.S., I was greeted by a 106-degree blast of the beginning of August in north-central Texas. As is my wont, I rolled down the left front window and lowered the right front window just enough to make the ambient air circulate well.

Even with the agitation of the incoming air, the heat got my attention, although I am far more partial to heat than chill. Significantly, even on the hottest day, none of us prefers cold bath water, but only hot water. Summer heat is definitely my preference with a comfortable—for me—rectory thermostat setting at 86 degrees, 74 in the winter.

Of course, many people question the comfort, if not the sanity, of this. In a very limited area of life, those are a couple of my numerous life statements that comprise flying into the teeth of life. Instead of buckling under the intense heat—when we are well – I embrace it as a welcome alternative to frigid weather—when many get sick.

Then again, some like it cold, as witnessed by the considerable number of folks who walk around comfortably in casual clothes most days during much of the frigid months, thus making their own statement on flying boldly into the teeth of life.

Sometimes the life reality we face is dollars and sense, as on Friday, August 10 when the support group, Friends Of OMM, threw an evening gala for the benefit of Our Mother Of Mercy School. Billed as “A Night In Harlem” and staged at “The Marquis on Magnolia” in Fort Worth, the gala featured an array of stars and wannabes.

As the coming-out production of Friends Of OMM, “A Night In Harlem” was a giant step forward in public relations, in bonding with the community and in showing that lively entertainment can render a modest financial contribution virtually painless.

Sight unseen, there was Bishop Kevin Van, since teen years a self-taught historian and expert at repairing and maintaining vintage jazz piano music rolls of pioneering Black jazz and ragtime pianists. He did a rendition of The Old Piano Roll Blues and chopsticks. Now here’s a bishop who is not afraid to fly into the teeth of life at every level!

The redoubtable lineup included program anchor Andrea Lacy Perry at the keyboard supported by Donald Walker, Jr., on the saxophone, Clint Sturgeon doing bass, Lester Newsome drumming, Zenobia “Madame Z” Collins and Alma “Lady A” Clark narrating. The evening setting and tone were introduced by Art Sanford and Marie Barks.

“The Cotton Club Performers” stars and wannabes were Stephanie Perry Watson as Billie Holiday, Aretha Livingstone as Ethel Waters, Lemuel Brown as Cab Calloway, Cassandra Berry as Ella Fitzgerald, Madame Z as Hazel Scott’s replacement, Peter Roehl as Frank Sinatra, Yours Truly as Billy Eckstein, Charlotte Choice as Etta James, Sheron Clemmons as Pearl Bailey, Marvin Cosby and Terry Bar­ree as Michael Jackson.

Yours Truly sashayed in, sporting a black wig, mustache and jacket a la Billy Eckstein. A first wave of total puzzlement was followed by a few who recognized my singing voice or, as one said, “When you gestured with your hand, I knew who you were!” Still, most had to be reassured that the mystery man was indeed Father LeDoux.

Flying into the teeth of life had a tough twist for OMM School President Mike Barks who helped facilitate the show despite hearing minutes before that his brother Al in Atlanta, who lost his wife Nadine in late January, 2012, is afflicted by cancer of the bone marrow. They lost their oldest brother Leonard December 23, 2011. Without rock-solid faith in the Author of life and the transcendent, we cannot bear up under reality.

Fly into the teeth of life. Those who fully manage to escape reality are known as insane, for they no longer know the difference between reality and fantasy. Depending on the extent of our embracing unconditionally all the aspects of reality, the rest of us are lodged somewhere on the shifting, confusing spectrum between sanity and insanity.

Life seldom comes at us with sweet caresses. More often than not, it offers us an assortment of the bittersweet. And sometimes it flat out thrusts the cross in our face. But, whatever we are offered by life, we do best when we fly into the very teeth of it, facing the reality of it without fear, without reluctance, and even with verve and alacrity.

This article originally published in the August 27, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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