Reflections on the Rector’s Haiti Ministry

Posted by: on Aug 19, 2013 | No Comments

Two months have passed since our return from Haiti, and for all of us, it has meant a sudden return to the demands of everyday life. I expect that we have experienced some difficulty in truly remembering what we saw and felt in Haiti. To forget is almost inevitable; we focus on what is right in front of us, and what is distant becomes…distant again.

I find that I remember Haiti best when I make a conscious effort to do so. One of the meditations that helps me remember is to pause at some point in my day and simply turn my attention outward to consider the variety of life on the planet, all life, including but not limited to the human. I seek to remember that, beyond the reach of my immediate senses, a vast drama of life is at play in this exact moment, everywhere on the planet.

Now that I have been to Haiti, I know first hand what some people have to face every day. I also know that there are many people, in Haiti and everywhere around the world, who have been called to work for others and not for themselves, who give of their time and energy in the effort to relieve the suffering of others and to build strong, vital communities. We met some of these workers in Haiti – those who build houses, take small steps toward developing infrastructure, provide medical care. There’s nothing in it for them except an inner satisfaction.

The presence of those who work on behalf of others is, in the New Testament sense, a “witness” to the world. It is a witness in the sense that it points to an interior center of action that is based on something other than self-interest. It raises questions: What do they

find so rewarding in that work? What makes them do it? Is it hard for them to live such a simple life, without many of the comforts I believe to be necessary?

I hope I remember these questions, not in the abstract, but in the day to day process of recognizing the true priorities in my own life:

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich?food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.

(Isaiah 55:1-3)

St. Mark's Youth on their way to Haiti

St. Mark’s Youth on their way to Haiti