Make Haiti Apparent

It’s been nearly four days since 3-5 inches of snow and ice blanketed much of the South and the Atlanta Metro Area where we live, and we’ve managed to get out of the house twice–once late Monday afternoon to get a few snacks for that evening’s BCS National Championship Game (Auburn v. Oregon) and about 3:30 pm today to pick up a few grocery staples like milk, vegetables, a frozen pizza for dinner and admittedly, ingredients to make blonde brownies.

In between Monday and today, we’ve been stuck at home because the snow that fell late Sunday night froze over early Tuesday morning, making roads and highways extremely dangerous for travel.  Although we’ve had fun playing in the snow with our two-year-old daughter and enjoyed our brief grocery excursions,  each of us (Elizabeth, Katie, Anne-the-mother-in-law and me) are getting a bit of cabin fever.

On one hand, I’ve enjoyed having time to sleep in, read and play video games in addition to spending quality time with the family. On the other, I’m starting to feel restless, anxious and unable to focus on one particular activity, which is sort of ironic considering how much time I have to do a lot of activities that I was hoping to get accomplished during this snow break.  Maybe, as a friend and colleague noted, its God’s way of forcing me to take a Sabbath and do mostly nothing. No agenda. No scheduled activities. No list of things to do and mark off. No do. Only be. Very Yoda of God, I know.

It’s not easy to just be and go with the flow.  I’m so stir crazy at this point that I’m even having difficulty writing this post; my mind is racing all over the place and I think my knee just twitched twice over the course of writing the previous sentence.

And yet just as I feel like I’m about to lose it and flip out, something inside me tells me to be still and breathe and remember that what I’m experiencing is not so bad.  Sure, there’s cabin fever and seasonal effect disorder and this growing sense of tension that next week will be entirely thrown off by this unexpected break away from work as a minister (already, I’m worrying about how I’m going to focus on writing a sermon for Sunday when I’m so darn fidgety).

In those moments of stillness and clarity, I look deep within and immediately around me to realize that I have nothing to truly be anxious about. My family is here and healthy. We have a nice home that is keeping us protected from the cold (a stable roof, a gas fireplace and working electricity). We have food to eat and clean water to drink, plus soda, tea, beer and coffee. We have cars and the ability to actually drive somewhere and get food, whether we actually need it or not.  And we have solid financial resources.

I’m finding this extremely important to remember today and this week–the one year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti, a country already mired in poverty and suffering.

Today, hundreds of thousands of Haitians still live in deplorable conditions, unable to work and eat. Today, 90 percent of the rubble remains unmoved. Today, resources and supplies sit in warehouses and fields because there is no responsible working government, no organized leadership to make decisions and distribute supplies. Today, billions of funds promised to Haiti by the West remain tied up in red political tape. Today, people starve from lack of nutrition or diseases like cholera. Today, restlessness, anxiousness, frustration, and anger are justifiable for anyone living in Haiti.  Being cooped up in a warm home because of thick snow and ice on the ground and roads is nothing compared to being cooped up in a tent with five people or more–no food and water; no plumbing or sanitary way to dispose of waste; no possibility of earning a sustainable income.

While Atlanta area residents complain about city and state official’s reaction to the storm that hasn’t greatly altered their lives, the people of Haiti forge on without complaint. They are a resilient people who refuse to lose faith or hope in God or the idea that they can build a better tomorrow for themselves.  They are survivors of centuries of atrocities who go on living and doing what little they can to keep their families and communities together and to encourage one another to rise above the devastation around them. And there are people from all over the world who continue to reach out and empower Haitians with resources and opportunities to improve their lives and country.

My hope is that many, many more folks will continue to reach out to Haiti in ways that truly help.  If you’re looking for a place to begin (which could be a welcome distraction from the cabin fever, whether you are in Atlanta or New York), please visit the following sites: The Apparent Project BlogHaiti Child Sponsorship ProgramHearts With HaitiWorld VisionPresbyterian Disaster AssistanceHeifer International; and Five Ways You Can Still Help In Haiti

And above else, please pray for healing, love, justice, courage and peace for the people of the country as they move forward with their lives.

Make Haiti apparent in your heart, mind and soul for when we recognize and embrace the oppressed and marginalized, we usher in the righteous and merciful kingdom of God.

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