Haint Blue & Defiant Hope

When I was in New Orleans last week, I went on a Ghost Tour of the French Quarter after dark, and I discovered something interesting about how to keep evil spirits from getting into your house.  

[For the record, we had to wear our masks and maintain social distancing throughout the tour, but it was a small price to pay for doing something kind of "normal."] 

I'm all about warding off poltergeists, and other kinds of angry ghosts, so I really paid attention when the guide explained how to do it with a simple coat of paint.  

You see, the Gullah communities of the coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia (and also those who migrated down to New Orleans) used indigo from the plantations where they worked as slaves to create a particular color blue that was used to paint window shutters, doors, and porches.  

The idea was that the blue color tricked the ghosts or "boo-hags" into believing they had slipped into the sky or water, and they would pass right through the house.  

This color came to be known as "Haint Blue" and you can still buy it today from places like Sherwin Williams if you desire.  

At one point in the tour, we stopped at a cemetery that was opposite a residential neighborhood made up of old, ramshackle houses.  The house closest to the cemetery was decked out in blue everything--shutters, porch, door, stairs, you name it.  

It was like the owners were saying to all of the would-be ghostly trespassers from the cemetery, "Try coming in this house!  We triple-dog-dare you!"  I liked it.  It spoke to me of the defiant kind of hope that it takes sometimes to live during times of trouble and sadness.  

Living in that house means that every single day of your life you get up, walk out the front door and take a gander across the street at a grand vista of headstones and mausoleums all of which are declaring in their hollow way, "You next!"  

But the blue paint was a sign and a symbol that declared right back, "You got no claim here!"  

I feel like painting my whole house that blue color, quite honestly.  It's been a heckuva year since everything shut down.  God knows we could use a break from whatever evil spirits have been running amok since then.  

In a very real way, though, those of us who lift up the kind of defiant hope that is part and parcel of the life of journeying with Jesus, we're all kind of decked out in that blue paint.  Let me explain.  

We have nothing to fear because Jesus let fear die on the Cross and three days later hope was resurrected and walked right out of the Tomb.  The only reason we still feel it from time to time is that we forget the story, and need to be reminded of it. 

As we move past the midway point of the Season of Lent, it's good to be reminded of this, and what lies ahead of us on Easter Sunday.  Because Jesus is risen, He is risen indeed.  

May this bring you courage and defiant hope today and every day.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  

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