The Haitian earthquake happened January 12th. I heard about it first in an e-mail from my priest to the congregation. I finally made the conscious decision to look at photos on-line on Monday, the 18th. The night before, over an impromptu dinner with friends, one of them told me, “Don’t look. You’ll be buying a plane ticket or something. [The pictures] are awful.” I agreed that I’d probably want to go over there and re-lactate or something so that I could nurse an orphaned baby.
But I looked at the photos, mainly from The Big Picture, whose photo posts are always view-worthy though not always pleasant. The photos are honest, raw, and exquisite in their clarity. The Haitian photos are no exception. Looking at the photographs, how can we not be connected to the devastation? Smell the dirt, smoke, blood and decay? Hear the screams of pain and wails of grief? Taste the dust in our dry mouths. Feel the tremor of our own body at the fear of the aftershock in the earth and in our own memory. As hope begins to fade for finding survivors, is hope being kindled quickly enough for a better tomorrow, for rebuilding an even better future? In a country so populated with poverty, how can I know anything about what that hope might look like?
As the 69-year-old woman who prayed for the week she was trapped, all many of us can do is pray, too. In a way we are trapped in our sheltered lives. As richly blessed as we are, we are bound by our attachments, often committed to too much, unable to be moved when it may most be needed. So we also pray for our own freedom and the gift of understanding that which is beyond our comprehension.
So I send a prayer of peace to the people of Haiti, that amidst this chaos they might find a reservoir of deep peace to carry them through. To the rescue crews, I pray for strength in body, mind and spirit. Thank you for doing the work that not all of us can do, and we send you our strength of spirit to back you. To those in authority of Haiti and those discerning how to allocate funds and goods, may you be pure of heart and keep those in need as your first priority. For that which I cannot understand, I pray that all will be well.