There are those moments when the world seems to stop on its axis. When the very air you breathe is sucked out of the room.
In a room full of people, I knelt face to face with one. She spoke in Kreyol and I fumbled to understand. Fumbling didn’t help. There is nothing in Kreyol that registers with my synapses – lips move, vocal cords utter and I stand blank as an empty sheet of paper. Yet, her eyes were speaking with a want and intensity that I could not deny.
I called Wilson, our very capable interpreter, over to help break this barrier of language and he did. With a somewhat hesitant pause, he relayed words that cut me to my very core - "mwen grangou - I am hungry".
At that very moment, my God took on the appearance of a little Haitian girl and spoke Kreyol to the very core of my soul. As I stood there it was as if the words of Matthew 25:35-40 came alive in full Technicolor.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothed you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
The brutal reality is what small attempt I may have done to appease this little one’s need, is but a drop in the ocean of her life - a fleeting instant that will soon be followed by many more “mwen grangou” utterances. The need in Haiti is overwhelming – physical, emotional, spiritual. It is hard to reconcile my abundance with their want.
What was once printed on paper or flashed upon a TV screen, has become flesh and blood to me. It was easier when I could turn the page or change the channel, easier for me, not for them. What is in my heart now cannot be so easily forgotten or ignored.
I have heard the cry with my own ears. I have hugged the need with my own arms. I have looked the distress face to face. I can’t turn away.
That is where I am right now - unable to turn away and wondering where to go next.
© A Sacred Longing 2009-2010