Tonight’s bike ride took me down the the Treme to meet D. and E. for dinner at St. Anna’s Episcopal Church at Marigny and Esplanade. D. and I got there after the service was over but were easily welcomed in for red beans and rice (perfectly seasoned), salad, and bread. Wednesdays feature this free community dinner with local musicians playing for the group. Behind a door in the back the church hosts two nurses who test blood sugar, measure blood pressure, and answer questions about minor health concerns. There is also an acupuncturist and a Reiki specialist who provide free treatments for two hours for as many people as they can. St. Anna’s started doing this after Katrina as a mission to musicians, many of whom (like lots and lots of us) struggle to get health care. After the levees broke, health care became even more out of reach. Even now several hospitals haven’t reopened and probably won’t. This city is full of sick people. We live in Cancer Alley, breathing in fumes from all kinds of toxic industrial plants. Those who were here when the levees broke are still coping with unimaginable loss, leading to depression, anxiety, and all sorts of other health problems connected with desperation. And then there’s just the part where people need and deserve health care. This tiny Wednesday clinic is doing good, good work, but it’s work they shouldn’t have to be doing. It’s dangerous to provide the services one’s community is unjustly denied because it can cause the injustice part to fade in to the background. But I’m most assuredly happy these people are here, doing what they do. Tonight’s crowd probably wasn’t the one first envisioned by the volunteers, but they helped ease many a stressed mind and body tonight. It was so, so lovely to sit in that room with folks from the neighborhood and just breathe. As I was leaving I snapped this photo of the sign with rules for the acupuncture room. Most of them were broken (I’m looking at you, E.!), but I think we all got more than we expected out of the fellowship, for lack of a better word. Afterward I hopped back on my bike and rode through thunder and lightning–I felt a little like a lightning rod on wheels–back home and took a dip in the pool. Yeah, I’m going to sleep well tonight.