No. 3062, St. Helena Parish, LA

Photos of St. Helena Parish, LA, which is ranked by the New York Times among the hundred hardest places to live in America.

I was in St. Helena Parish on Ash Wednesday, and I went there with big dreams about penitent lenters (is that the right word?) roaming the streets as church let out. People moving about in somber reflection. A visible and tangible sense of cleansing and rebirth.

It turns out that Ash Wednesday in Louisiana is not a palpable event. That’s not to say there weren’t people observing the beginning of the lent season; I’m sure there were. It’s just that the romanticized event I was hoping for wasn’t really there.

This is something I am working hard to buck as I visit my counties. It is easy for me to build up expectations of what I would like a place to be, and a huge percentage of the time, those expectations are incorrect. America is a big country, and I think we often hold dear to dated ideas about regions of our country that we aren’t intimately familiar with.

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