Over the last few days, I – like you – have found my thoughts returning again and again to the suffering people of Haiti. . . and I have been gratified to see so much of the attention of the world focused there. But it certainly was dispiriting the morning after the earthquake to see that Haiti was #TWO on Yahoo’s search list, while American Idol was #ONE. I saw that and all I could say was “Arrrrrrrrrrrgh! ! !” But Haiti soon gained the top spot, as the dimensions of the disaster became a bit clearer, and that’s where it remains still.
I have found my thoughts turning to Haiti in the oddest moments. . . and especially in the course of preparing for the big party we threw tonight for Holy Communion’s Senior Choir. As I walked the aisles of the grocery store I thought of the hungry, thirsty people of Haiti and of how many people there could be fed if there were a way to pick up that Pick n Save and materialize it in the heart of Port au Prince. And as I stood at the deli counter and pondered whether to order ranch rolls, wheat rolls, small kaiser rolls, potato rolls, or some combination, I couldn’t help but shake my head in disbelief at the absurd array of choices from which we can choose. It takes something like the disaster in Haiti to shake us loose from complacent acceptance of the lavish luxury we so easily take for granted.
More unexpectedly, I thought of Haiti as I found myself in the midst of a task that always drives me crazy – organizing the laundry room cupboard where we keep all of our Ziploc containers (the plastic containers in which we can keep leftovers.) They come in eight different shapes and /or sizes and we have too many to easily fit into one cupboard- so they need to be stacked just so and as I inevitably struggle to make sense of the chaos, I am tempted to scream- and then just give up. But then – oddly enough – I thought of CNN’s Anderson Cooper and his riveting on-the-scene report of a desperate family trying to dig out a young woman buried in the rubble of her home – and digging her out without benefit of any proper equipment or tools. My stupid little challenge with those ziploc containers had nothing to do with their life-and-death struggle in the rubble- and yet I found myself tackling that menial little task with a strange sort of determination, thinking of how little I had to be frustrated about. . . and of how thrilled anyone in Haiti would be to trade their frustrations for mine.
One last observation about what we have heard and seen from Haiti this week . . . The single most moving moment for me was during Thursday’s “All Things Considered” on NPR, which opened with an onsite report from NPR’s Jasion Boviar. As he filed his live report he was standing outside of a hotel where a number of western doctors were believed to be staying, and a number of people had gathered outside the hotel with their seriously injured family or friends, hoping that it might be possible to receive even a few moments of attention of a doctor. As he described that scene, his gaze fell on one young woman who appeared to be there all by herself – seriously injured, laying on the pavement, no one around her. And as he spoke specifically about her and her heartbreaking plight, his voice wavered and then cracked, and as he paused and tried to regain his composure, the host back in Washington D.C. quietly said “It’s okay, Jason.” And she was right- because that moment where the reporter began to cry right in the middle of his report spoke as powerfully as any of his words did.
As I finish up this blog entry, there is football on television- and men in suits are speaking with great vehemence about the battle being waged on the field – as though it matters quite a lot in the grand scheme of things. But as someone Tweeted from Haiti not long after the quake, MANY IMPORTANT THINGS HAVE BECOME UNIMPORTANT TODAY.
Truer words were never spoken.