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Saturday, January 16, 2010

“HOPE is the Thing With Feathers: Reflections in the Aftermath of Earthquake in Haiti.”


She walked in and peered over her father’s shoulder before he noticed. Little eyes are watching always even when we aren’t.

She sees an image on the computer screen of the aftermath in Haiti—an image of sadness, not grotesque but painful still.

Without television, we’ve been able to protect them from so much. There are no advertisements, pressure to want more and more and more. There are no models of families, dysfunctional and broken, disrespect and sarcasm common. There are no models of a beauty that is unrealistic and vapid though enticing all the same. Our little ones (5, 3, and 1) know little of the harsh world.

Instead, we have books, feasts, puzzles, fairies, playsilks, superheroes, saints, games, each other. We create a culture of true beauty and life, where good triumphs bad, where love abounds. But there is a world out there that does not recognize or value the Good—places where evil has its day, times when natural forces are too much for humankind.

And since a parent must not only protect but prepare, father explains to his 5 year old girl in simple words the truth, no more than she need hear, but the truth all the same. She pauses and flits away. And I, baby with ear infection on hip and a mountain-load of dishes and laundry, hardly notice the exchange.

I send the “big kids” outside. With all the difficulties of late, I need peace. Out the window I watch them run free and sure. I work to the sounds of shouts and laughter. But I am preoccupied, and so when husband lets them back inside, red-cheeked and cold, I don’t think twice when sweet girl goes quickly upstairs.

She comes down again with a dime and nickel in hand to tell me, “I want to give my money to the poor… I’ve made them decorations.” I now am running out the door and so take little time to understand her reference to those in Haiti. “That’s good honey,” I lamely encourage when she continues, “I want to love, mommy; I want to be a saint.”

Decorations. The only word in her vocabulary to describe what I later find when I’m finally able to return to my bedroom at the end of a tiring day, hours after the house has long been asleep.

Decorations.

A scattering of bird feathers. No, not a scattering, feathers brought in from outside, carefully placed and arranged all over my bedroom carpet. It was horrific and beautiful all at once. It looked like a massacre. It looked like art.

What is it about suffering that has driven so many to write, to paint, to sculpt? Not just those who do it up pretty, but those who attempt to face the pain head on and bring healing, beauty, and life when they do.

A friend’s response to the devastation in Haiti was words, “Whispers, A Poem for Haiti” (full text below). Chaz Howard, a UPenn grad with MDiv and PhD, now a Chaplain, knows how to write what my daughter cannot express, still his theme is similar to hers. One said in words, the other with feathers:

“Buildings have been grounded, but the people of Ayiti, by God's grace, will always fly…”

It is me, caught up in a world I’ve created, who needs to hear their words of hope, concern, and conviction:

5 year old:

“I want to help… I want to love… I want to be a saint…Here is my money…Here are my decorations.”

And poet:

"I was not loving my neighbors as myself...I was just loving myself." I whisper.



Love says, "It is never too late to love.

Love is more than sharing money.

Love is sharing tears,

Love is sharing time,

Love is sharing yourself.

Go and Love."



Love whispers from the other side, "Go and Love."

Yes, I attempt much to create a culture of life and beauty and love in our home, but how often do I miss what is right before my eyes? And, on the other hand, how often, in this attempt for family culture, do I just love myself and my family and our home and am callous to a suffering world which Christ has come to redeem?

Again the poet:

The voice of Love whispers from the other side,

"Remember that I said, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

Go and Love.


The poem in its entirety:


"Whispers" A Poem for Haiti
by Chaz Howard






Toussaint L'overture whispers from the other side,


"The media does not know Haiti.


All they can say of us is, 'They are the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere...'


They say, 'The city is destroyed...The nation is crippled.'


But they forget that a city is not made up of buildings, but it is made up of souls.


That a nation is not simply just land, but rather that a nation is made up of those who walk and live upon that land.


Our National Cathedral has crumbled - but our spirit is still alive.


Our Presidential Palace has fallen - but the Haitian flag has not hit the ground."










Jean-Jacques Dessalines whispers from the other side,


"Pat Robertson does not know Haiti.


He does not know of the courage God gave us to fight for our freedom.


He does not know of the God-given love it takes to risk one's life so that her or his children might live without chains.


He does not know of this rich culture that has blessed the world.


He forgets that without Haiti, there would be fewer stars on his nation's flag."






The voice of Love whispers from the other side,


"Remember that I said, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'






And I reply, "What can I do to help Lord?"






"Why did you not ask that last week? Or last month? Or last year? Help was certainly needed then." Love asks.










"I was not loving my neighbors as myself...I was just loving myself." I whisper.






Love says, "It is never too late to love.


Love is more than sharing money.


Love is sharing tears,


Love is sharing time,


Love is sharing yourself.


Go and Love."






Love whispers from the other side, "Go and Love."






Perhaps there is a message in the fact that while other things have been destroyed, the airport was not. Buildings have been grounded, but the people of Ayiti, by God's grace, will always fly. Go and love! 

holy experience











3 comments:

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Don't be too hard on yourself, Amy. Clearly you're raising your little ones to respond with love to those in distress. That is no small thing.

Amy said...

thank you, Emily! That's good to hear. i always appreciate your comments so much.

Karen said...

Thank you for sharing your words and that poem...it is easy to think of terms of the masses, the buildings, the rubble, but when we force ourselves to look at the faces, the eyes, the hope then we have to make a choice...hopefully we will choose to love and act on that love. Thoughts for me to ponder...and do more...
Thank you...

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