I love these two Haitian children. I don’t know who they are, but they are so beautiful, so charming -and they remind me of my sons in demeanor, the straightforward older one, the little hotdogger behind him.
They have been on my desktop since I posted this piece, an update on Haiti, mostly from the perspective of Ed, a missionary in a city called Petit Goave.
I get updates on Petit Goave, and Ed, from a reader named DeLynn, and each time I open one of her emails, it is with a feeling that is half-dread, half-gladness. Dread, because what the people of Haiti are living through is so harrowing, and it is reading that makes one’s heart ache. Gladness because I get to see pictures of people like these children, and they make me gasp with the vivacity and joy and courage I see in them.
Look at those smiles. These children have known joy and security in their lives, even without prosperity, which is a fleeting and illusory thing. The one in the foreground, who looks a little older to me, his eyes are full of light and life. That little one leaning over his shoulders -you can tell he’s a scamp.
I wish I knew their names, but they have become a part of my life, even so. I turn on my computer and there they are, in all their youth and health and beauty, and they smile and I smile back, and ask God’s blessings on them, and their families, and on all the people in Haiti who are suffering, mourning, recovering, wandering, hoping, living, healing and laughing, even as they realize that “normal” has been completely redefined for them, that “ordinary” is no longer even on their map. I pray for the people who are working to bring them relief, and for a change-of-heart for those who would exploit or bully or terrorize or further victimize these people who have had every material thing, and many loved ones, taken from them. I pray for perseverance for these children and all their friends. And I pray that their future will be -with the help of God, and the goodwill of nations- better than their past has been.
An Icon looks out from an Intrinsic light and points to its Source; there are no shadows in which to hide
An idol looks out from man-created light, and points to no one but himself; then walks into the shadows
An Icon looks you straight in the eye and dares you to pursue truth.
An idol wears shades and has his spokesperson tell you what you want to hear.
An Icon teaches you how to focus, how to quiet down, focus, collect oneself and hear the small, still voice.
An idol teaches throws noise, images and issues at you, non-stop, scatters your thinking and deafens you to any voice but his.
An Icon whispers wisdom.
An idol shouts sound-bites and mindless trendspeak.
An Icon inspires you to chant to the Most High.
An idol inspires you to chant to him.
In a way, the image of these two little boys is as much a Holy Icon for me as is this image of Namrata Nayak. These photographs, of put-upon young people with eyes that are direct and fearless, are as instructive to me as any Orthodox Icon. Both humble me, and urge me to prayer, and instruct me as to what matters in life; they teach the power of light, and love. They demonstrate the transcendent, unconquerable human spirit that cannot be extinguished by adversity. A light shines in the darkness. The darkness does not overcome.
Here are a few updates from Ed, and a few more pictures, as of Tuesday/Wednesday:
Some of the kids gathering for a game. Most of them dressed up in their best clothes as though they were coming to a fancy dinner. All of them are living in the street;many no longer have homes.
Writes Ed: “As long as they have food and somewhere to play, they’re okay. It’s when they go to bed under the stars that they remember.”
Yes, I’m sure that’s when the sounds and sensations of the earthquake come alive at night, reverberating in their memories.
The food handouts in Port au Prince (PAP) have not been going well. Too many people, and the strong push ahead and take most of it. Ironically, often the people that most need help are least likely to get it. This would have been the case even before the earthquake.
They did a food handout near the dock here in Petit Goave today and it got out of hand as well. Everyone is afraid there won’t be enough. Usually there isn’t, especially when bullies take more than their share. In communities that we work in, we are able to make sure each family gets some.
It is a huge task and we are dealing with hundreds and they with thousands.
And today, after many days of difficult reads…
I believe that wonderful things are going to rise out of this nightmare. We are getting some BIG dreams. It’s going to be a long hard road, but it’s going to be worth it. Lest we get too lost in the future, the ever present tremors keep us in the present. I hate those things. . . we gave supplies to 45 families this afternoon. Also, fed several folks here at the house and met with a few pastors. The weather was beautiful. We have ice and gas in town now. That’s great news. Don’t know when there will be electricity again. . . . it is night again. Everything here is dark. Everything except my computer screen, which the bugs can’t resist. Nearly time to head back to my tent. I am one of the lucky ones that has a tent. The moon is full tonight…and so are the streets
French rescuers have managed to pull a 16 year old girl out of the rubble – she was miraculously alive after 15 days – but these photographs of Port au Prince show a society breaking down. As difficult as things are in Petit Goave, with thugs, and thieves and hardship, it sounds like there is a measure of stability there.
When things calm down a little in Haiti, when mail can reliably get through, and something like a plan for moving forward exists, and the beginnings of order are in place, I want to send some baseball stuff to the children of Petit Goave. And dolls, and puzzles, and books. Maybe Team Rubicon can show me how to organize such an effort. I would love to do it. Can’t you just see those two boys up top wearing Yankee caps? Or this little guy?
Speaking of Icons, and Holy Things, look what Pianogirl has sent my way – what has been left standing amid the rubble of Port au Prince!
What is left of Sacre Couer Catholic Church, Reuters
The AP has another shot
Declaring and end to search-and-rescue missions must be heartbreaking for many thousands.