Those french words in a cajun accent caught me off-gaurd in the fellowship hall of our Presbyterian church in Opelika, Alabama. But the interaction of talking about Louisiana for 3 minutes was refreshingly sweet.
I try to remind myself of the culture that I knew growing up and implement those things now. There's the obvious: fun, food, drink, among many other things. And we take them very seriously. But there's something that I knew for a long time that recently got the attention it deserves: the communal selflessness of cajuns. AKA The Cajun Navy.
I've seen such lavish generosity of south Louisianans all of my life. It was no surprise to me when we saw the efforts of this Cajun Navy as they set out to help desperate people in the flood in August 2016 in Louisiana. To see brotherly kindness in the midst of devastation brought such pride. So much so that I printed and framed the now-recognized photo of men in their trucks hauling fishing boats on their way to help. I hung the picture by the back door as a reminder of where I come from, what is honorable, good and expected, which is to put others ahead of myself.
Just a few weeks ago, we saw what Hurricane Harvey had for the people of Texas: more devastation. Heart-warmingly, we saw The Cajun Navy load up and go, serving with complete abandon.
The photo of these cajun men in their trucks hauling their boats is a tangible, concrete way for me to remember to put others before myself. The image was poignant to me; a very typical gesture of people in south Louisiana. But the concept of generosity can hit home in so many ways. I'm guessing that the sight of men with flat bed boats doesn't invite tears for most people. But, if you're contemplating the concept of generosity, the question you can ask is this: what does sacrificial serving look like for me? Is there a "Cajun Navy" spirit in my heart and in my life?
I saw this beautiful spirit in our friend Shelby in Houston. I was touched by the burden she had for her people in Texas. Right away, she worked in helping the way she knew how: she painted Texas-inspired watercolors with proceeds going directly to flood victims.
She and Andrew talked and collaborated on this design.
A tangible reminder of people who lost everything and need help.
I told Andrew that I've come to notice that we all have very short attention spans, and with the subsequent weather tragedies of Irma, Maria, earthquake in Mexico, it's easy to forget about a tragic flood we once deeply cared about. It's hard to know what to give a where to give. As Shelby says in her post, "the most powerful impact we all can have is pray."
If you feel inclined to help with this particular effort, the print can be found here.
To learn more about Shelby's business, click here. And her social media here.
I love this great country and the spirit of community that we see when regrettable tragedy strikes. I love to see the self-less, tender-hearted, "where can I help" mentality in people regardless of region. (Or as Cajuns say, "irregardless"). I love the reminders of good people when they come: with a "comma ça va", a photo, a painting.
I hope you find good people around you who inspire you to serve selflessly.
Having lived in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Louisiana after college, Andrew has planted roots back in his hometown of Auburn, Alabama with his beautiful wife, Whitney, and two sons, John Henry and Matthew.
Andrew is a graduate of Auburn University with a degree in industrial design and has worked in a wide range of industries and design capacities in product design, graphic design, advertising and marketing.
Andrew works full-time for Auburn University, primarily digital media in web, graphic design, marketing and online education. Outside of his role at Auburn is where he is able to unplug and focus on what has come to define the Andrew Lee Design brand: the fine art, the handcrafted design in printmaking, woodworking and leather work. It's a creative balancing act--utilize cutting edge technology to produce dynamic content for online learning, then switch to the tradition and pace of the handcrafted that endures generation after generation.