Thursday, March 10, 2011
In April of 2007, I went on a retreat to a place 15 miles from my house.There were about twenty of us who set out that Friday night for a week-end in "Haiti".We walked a mile down a gravel path,pulling our luggage.The day was bright and cool and the walk was lovely.Then we arrived at our accommodations.A former missionary had built a small poor village out of bricks and sheets of tin and in open huts we slept with no electricity,an outhouse and dinner served on rocks.The dinner was typical island fare,spaghetti with kethcup.What was I doing here ?
On Saturday, we made bricks by hand with clay,water and a press.The bricks would be used to make other huts in case this "retreat" caught on.The last meal on the Sunday we were leaving was a bag passed around that contained the refuse collected from a youth retreat.We were to know in no uncertain terms that many of the island's people ate from the garbage dumps.Sticking my hand in and grabbing a half eaten Tostado was one of the hardest things I've ever done.Humbling and gross.
I think of this because, yesterday I came across a small, crudely hand made piece of fabric with the words Haiti sewn on it.This was given to me on the week-end by a young girl to whom I had offered one of my three jackets when I saw goosebumps on her arms.In return she, who had been to the real Haiti on a mission trip, gave me her precious memento but with a promise that I would pray for these poorest people.I have but not often enough.
Yesterday made me go deeper with this thought because it was a day of fast and I was hungry most of the day.It didn't feel good but I would lay a wager that most of Haiti feels that way every day.
Looking back, it is strange to me that those few days were very happy ones,despite the "deprivations".There was a strong bond between the group members,mostly women my age ,making bricks and sweating in the sun;eating garbage and having the courage to do that.And Haiti is now more real to me and I do pray for the Haitians.And I will never forget that small,crude special gift from a tender young girl.
I hope that Charlie Sheen does go to Haiti and helps out.And perhaps I need to fast more than just on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.All of this seems to tie in to the readings of today:
"Happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,nor sits in the company of the insolent, But
delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law night and day.
He is like a tree planted near running water
That yields its fruit in due season,and whose leaves never fade.
(Whatever he does,prospers.)Ps.1:1-3.