Guiltless Sunday Sermon

by Jim on 2012/04/28

[Jimbaux no longer is the thorn within.]

I Am The Guilty?

Greetings, dearest parishoners, and gather ’round for today’s Sunday sermon, posted nearly a week late, but, no matter, no guilt for that, as guilt is the message for today’s sermon, or, rather, the toxicity therein.

A month ago as I was heading north on my 2012 Great Plains Pilgrimage, I listened to Metallica’s Load album – from which today’s song comes – for the first time in a couple of years.  Gosh, the lyrics for some of the songs toward the end of the album took on new meaning for me!  What do y’all think of the concept of Catholic guilt or just guilt in general?  Listen to the lyrics of today’s hymnal from the prophet James Hetfield and let Pastor Jimbaux know what you think, a’ight?

The most telling line in the song is “find me guilty when true guilt is from within,” and then Hetfield begins to realize that he’s his own worst enemy.  The beauty of this revelation is the knowledge that the power to not be plagued by guilt rests in your own hands!

And it was on this glorious Sunday morning that I was foaming in a place where I usually don’t foam: Old Metairie.  The reasons for my presence there are a couple of projects on which I’m working, but we begin our services today with a reading from the book of Union Pacific, train AARWX, on the Norfolk Southern Back Belt.

Yes, that’s not a particularly inspiring reading.

I Am The Thorn Within

My plan was to next shoot this thing at Wisner at City Park, and I wondered if I could even make it there on time.  Then, something stupid happened that for political reasons I cannot discuss, but it delayed me.

Right at this time, I’d like you to join me in raising a proudly-outstretched middle finger to all the condescending people in the world who flaunt their perfection and their self-perceived superiority toward you, as if to try to make you feel so guilty and therefore worthless.  “All these years of X, and I never” screwed Y up.  Yeah, well, Mr. Perfect, shut up, and what’s the point or repeatedly saying that to someone anyway?  So you can flaunt your superiority?  Go away!  Aren’t people like that repulsive?  Only now do I realize that people like that have deserved to be ignored – or, better yet, challenged for their condescending nature – all along, that the alternative is to feel the guilt with which they try to infect you.  Nope.  Not anymore.  Hetfield figured this out, and now I have too.  I am most grateful, grateful to not be guilty.

After all of this stupidity, there’s simply no way that I’m going to beat the AARWX to Wisner, I mean, I might as well just give up and go do something else.  Wait, what’s this?

Wow.  Nothing keeps Jimbaux down.  Actually, that’s not necessarily true.  In fact, it’s not at all true, but that’s not entirely the point.  The point is that Jimbaux gets back up.  Now, nearly a week after taking these pictures, Jimbaux has succumbed to some wicked illness (which has delayed the publication of this post by at least two days) the likes of which he has never had before, and the challenge for Jimbaux now is to figure out how to get back up from this latest setback in a string of many, since, as my woadie Saint Jude said the other day, “you can’t get any luck lately,” but even though that’s not entirely true, and even as I must find a way to persevere yet again, we’re losing our focus here; let’s get back to these overexposed shots of the AARWX before you get too bored.  Before we move on, though, I would like to say that I do like how you can see the end of the train snaking off to the left in the above picture.  I’ve never shot a unit auto-rack train here before and have therefore never observed this phenomenon here.

So Point Your Finger . . .

. . . Point it right at Alvar Street, and that’s really where I wanted to shoot this train, not having done this morning shot since more than two months ago.  Here were are, now on CSX rails, as the train has to slow down to realign the crossover switches.

You know, looking at these pictures – and even taking them – I get the idea that foam season in Woadieville has basically ended.  We’re not really at high-sun yet, but even in the above two shots, the ballast is very bright.  For those of you who tune in here to see to see shots in the city of New Orleans itself, I wouldn’t expect to see much more of this for awhile (which will maybe allow me to work on Great Plains trip shots) unless we have a totally cloudy day and I get inspired to do more overhead stuff.  I’m too busy and monetarily impoverished anyway.  Likely, the only new material you’ll see here for the next six months are on my trips between Woadieville and bayouland, just like the two posts previous to this one, and stuff I get while I’m in Swampland out on my errands.  This is something I definitely do not at all like, but, like with many things in life, you must accept it and just make the best of it, and I intend to do so.

Anyway, now you can see below that the conductor has gotten out of the cab onto the platform.

The knowledgeable observers in the crowd will know that the conductor shown below is not waving at the photographer or anyone else; he is giving hand signals of the most basic variety to the engineer right behind him.

That 4354 is quite ragged and grimy, isn’t it?  It’s enough to remind a guy of the Southern Pacific, whatever the heck that was.

And, look!  I even had enough time to scurry down and do the ground-level shot!  You’re welcome.

Now it’s time to get out of here, but before we cross the tracks, let’s grab one more human-interest-type shot of the conductor walking back to the train.

Okay, well, it’s time to get out of here, and that’s just what I did.

Lunchtime In Woadieville

I headed back to the crib to do some badly-needed chores.  The place is still a mess since my Great Plains trip, opening old boxes and looking for stuff like map books.

Anyway, after that, it was time for lunch with Saint Jude.  I met him at his crib Uptown, and we went to some place on Magazine Street that he likes.  The conversation was one of the most refreshing from him in a long time.  It’s a refreshing thing when people allow you to look past the shiny armor that they use to guard themselves, and apparently, a really good woman has broken his armor.

After that, it was time to head back to the crib, do some more cleaning, eat a salad, and pack my stuff to head to bayouland.  Dammit!  Hoping to scout out locations to catch the UP E9s when they came through on Friday, I took a different route back.  Now, as you Louisiana foamers know, this was kind of a moot point, since the E9s came a bit early.  Oh, well.

The Old Cow Town Of My Youth

Vacherie holds a place in Jimbaux’s distant past, but it’s a place he rarely visits in adulthood.  Still, there are always new things to explore everywhere, and so it is true, here, amongst the sugarcane fields along the old Texas & Pacific Railway line, at the First Baptist Church Memorial Cemetery, a secluded part of the community of Vacherie that I had not heretofore visited.

That tile pattern on the grave at the right is neat.

The below three views are taken from the railroad track.

There’s something about these scenes, a feeling of timelessness, a sense of the temporal nature of life, that I get when looking at these scenes of cemeteries amongst agricultural fields, a sense that from where we come, we will one day a return, a sense that our mere existences are some weird fluke of chemistry, and that we should, then, not take our lives so seriously.

We have not the time for guilt.  We’re all going to die anyway.  We try to elude that fact sometimes, but this fact is indeed a truth.

I wish that some of the generation that preceded me would realize that the quantity of days that they have remaining in life is far smaller than the quantity of days that they have already lived, and what this means for the anger from which some of them cannot unclutch themselves.  I definitely have no intention of having any anger when I leave, and I don’t want to bury anyone else with anger either.  A year ago, I was plenty angry about a great many things.  I learned from it, and I let it go (which I had to learn to do as well.)

In the last few days, I was reminded of why I had that anger back then, but I’ve decided that I’ll be damned if I’ll be consumed by it or even allow it inside of me in the first place, as guilt is a parasite that eats from within – “the thorn within,” as today’s song says.  Some of us don’t have a choice, as we were infected/injected with that terrible parasite when we were too impressionable (i.e., young) to know any better, but, once the parasite takes residence, only the infectees can remove it.  This is not easy, but it is absolutely necessary.  Part of the problem is that it often takes a long times – years, decades – to even realize that you have the parasite, but once you learn that you have it, remove it you must.

One beautiful lesson of the last week is that I have apparently successfully purged that parasite, and, apparently, I could only make that beautiful discovery by having more guilt thrown at me.  This time, it failed to infect me.  Yay!  Think about that as we gaze upon the First Baptist Church Memorial Cemetery one last time.

All of this – all of what we have, and all of what we know – will end at some point, and not a point of your choosing.  Far from a reason to despair, this is an affirmation to live.  Guilt is a dream-killer, and the choice is yours.

I think that a relatively benign form of racism is probably one reason why I had not heretofore been to this part of Vacherie.  While I know many people in this little town, nearly all of those I know here look more like me and less like the people buried here.  No matter, as with the dynamic mentioned above, regardless of how the prejudices that one has become his prejudices, what he does about them is ultimately his responsibility.  Furthermore, it’s only natural that people gravitate toward those who look, think, and act like he does, but life becomes much more enriching when venturing out from that comfort zone.  That desire was a big reason for decided to spend two months in Mexico in 2004, and I returned there two-and-a-half years later, as many of you know.

The Remains Of The Depot

It’s funny that Doc Donaldson commented on my previous entry, since it was his photo of some Texas & Pacific F-unit at the Vacherie depot that I remembered as I was taking this picture.  What an interesting time that must have been.  As close as it is to me and as busy as it is, I rarely do any foaming on the Livonia Sub north of Live Oak.  It’s just really difficult to do, and maybe that’s a challenge that I must sometime accept, but I’m too busy with other things now.  Besides, DJ Indeed is doing a decent job of documenting at least the northern parts of the subdivision, and should be doing an even better job now that he’s entered the world of radio scanning just a few days ago.  For now, you’ll just have to settle for this train-less shot of the foundation of the old depot.

I guess it would be nice to reconnect with some of the Vacherians of my past, but as it is, those whom I knew best have left town, which is Vacherie’s loss.  One now lives across the river and went to the Shinedown concert in Mississippi the other night.  I was hoping to see her at the Godsmack concert, but she didn’t make it there.

We have one last picture, taken a few miles further west, this of the south end of the siding at St. James.

That’s really enough for now.


So, here I sit finishing this Sunday Sermon on a Saturday evening when I originally had other plans, having completed this blog post in parts separated by bouts of yelling and screaming in agonizing pain the likes of which I have never experienced, and I ask any medical professionals reading this to please e-mail me.  Yes, I plan to visit a physician next week (didn’t even have the energy to pick up a telephone on Friday), but I’d appreciate your advice in the meantime.  I would divulge the details of the problem right here in this post, but that would likely result in repulsing several readers, something that I’m not interested in doing for this sake.  I say that (“for this sake”) because it’s different than some of the more controversial stuff on terrorism and rights that I have written that have repulsed readers; in those cases, my intent was never to offend, but only to get a greater point across, that if some were offended and repulsed by it, that was just an unfortunate result of getting across a greater truth.

In this case of my sickness, the Aristotlean credo of “I love thee, but I love the truth more” – a mantra that I usually follow – does not really apply.  Does that make sense?  If it still doesn’t (and even if it does) make sense, I’m progressively coming to the opinion that being ‘offended’ is a choice.  Does that make sense?

Notice, though, that it is only consideration of you, the reader, that prevents me from publicly disclosing the details of what is physically ailing me now.  Notice that such constitutes a lack of embarrassment on my part.  Two years ago, I would have been highly embarrassed to write such stuff here, but, now, I just don’t care anymore, and it is such a refreshing feeling.  Embarrassment is tied to that oh-so-toxic guilt.  I do not care to live a life like many others who live a life that is as processed as the food that they eat.  (If you’re reading this post at all, by virtue of that fact, that statement likely doesn’t apply to you.)

So, this post, completed in spurts between moments of agonizing pain (no, I’m not looking for sympathy, only understanding, as if that’s even possible, which it partially is), represents the entirety of my accomplishments (other than converting oxygen to carbon dioxide) in the last 48 hours, and it was 48 hours ago (Thursday night) that I thought I’d have this post done and published, but that’s when I got attacked by this miserable condition.  I could not even work (the ‘real’ kind) on Friday (and, if I’m lucky, this blog post will only generate about $0.03 in advertising revenue.)  I had such big plans, so much to do, so many projects to work on this weekend.  What a waste!

The week started with an attempted huge guilt trip on Jimbaux, an attempt that would, as such attempts did in the past, leave Jimbaux feeling useless, helpless, and guilty (regardless of intention), but Jimbaux repulsed this as best he could, and he succeeded in those attempts, only to succumb days later to some real (i.e., physical) sickness that has left Jimbaux feeling, yes, useless and helpless.  Still, I must persevere, for to not do so is to suffer a fate worse than death, and all of us will have plenty of time in places such as the cemetery seen in this post.

So, go in peace to love and serve, and, remember, as our song says today, true guilt is from within, true guilt is the thorn within, and even though Jimbaux has learned to his great delight that he’s successfully removed that thorn, in a more real and tangible sense, he’s suffering from a real thorn within (that’s what it feels like) right now.  Still, the physical kind is perhaps the better kind to have, as both types of thorns are very real.



{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 nitro April 28, 2012 at 23:00

Good sermon brother , hope you get better soon ,


2 Howard Bunte April 29, 2012 at 01:02

Jeez!!!… and they keep telling us that ‘universal health care’ is “wrong, unnatural, evil…
and more guilt/crap…
when, if youare sick/hurting/broken… get to a doc to ‘get it better’…
but, YES, having a physical ailment IS far better than ‘being eaten alive with an inner ailment… guilt, inferiority, anger… stuff shoveled down our throats at some impressionable moment or age…
and we absorb it… then, have to ‘dig it out’ later, when it has rooted…
(see Alien, with Sigourney Weaver… my favorite 6 ft tall actress… to see ‘something like guilt taking over a person…
it’s about that destructive… unless you can “de-tox” and ‘get rid of it… Bon champs, mon ami…
or is it…”bueno suerte, amigo!”…?… HNB


3 Thomas Beckett April 30, 2012 at 15:41

I can appreciate your comment about realizing that one may have more days behind than ahead. I’ll be 53 on Thursday; nothing like a birthday to remind you that you’re getting closer to the end, and now A LOT closer to the end than the beginning!! The result, hopefully, is that you start reorganizing you priorities. Things that mattered 25 years ago are not so important any more. With any luck, you’ve learned to sort the superficial from what’s really important. I find I’m not so particular about some things as I used to be. If I wear jeans to church, is it really going to matter in the long run?? Somehow I doubt it. wife, ever the Calvinist, is a big one for duty before fun. While I’m not suggesting we should let everything go, if I don’t get the dishes done today, or the laundry, because I decided it was a nice day and too good to spend doing housework so I went train watching, there will be no effect on the cosmos; and I refuse to feel guilty about my derelction of duty. When I’m gone, nobody is going to care if I made my bed every day. I’m sure that will not be a qualifier for getting into whatever is next, if anything. While I’m not going to let anything important go unattended-I’ll look after the folks who need it, and take care of myself so that others don’t have to do that for me, and keep my little corner of the world in some semblance of presentable, I’m not going to stand on what are often artificial standards just to please someone whose approach is “that’s the way we do things.”

Hope you’re feeling better!!


4 Laurie Bourgeois May 5, 2012 at 05:53

Great Job James! I am so glad to hear that you have “successfully purged that parasite”. I hope that you continue to heal mentally and physically. As for the Vacherie pics, I absolutely love them! Thanks so much for paying homage to my beautiful home town that I miss so much even though I live just across the river. Most of us left when we went off to college or to pursue other dreams. However, there have been quite a few who have returned once they settled down, got married and had kids because they realize now that it really is a great place to raise a family. Even my parents who lived there for 60 years decided to move to Prairieville which of course the whole town was shocked by (because everyone knows everyone) but they will always call it home and so will I. I really wish I could have made it to the Godsmack concert as well but my demanding job threw a wrench in my plans as usual. Hope to see you soon and catch up! Keep up the good work and thanks again!


5 Alex May 13, 2012 at 01:10

hah, I saw the Q208 at my yard… got one picture of it. Q223 is the southbound version.


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