Eleven years ago today, at 4:53 pm, the earth in Haiti shook for 30 seconds.
In its wake, over 200,000 people died.
Thousands were left amputees, hundreds of thousands homeless.
All in the aftermath of a cataclysmic thirty seconds.
It seems so long ago — eleven years. World events careen along , exhausting us. Political tensions, global warming, floods, cyclones. In this pandemic that has claimed the lives of nearly 2 million, it’s hard to make sense of the world.
I find myself asking “Why is this happening now? Why me? Why us?”.
Last week I came upon some notes from a retreat I’d taken about five years ago. On one page I’d written “Ask the right question“. That question , we’ve learned again and again as we continue our collective journey, is not the usually unanswerable “why me?” but instead “How do I find I meaning in the current moment?”.
I believe that that important question is answered every day, all around me, but I need to keep my eyes open. For example it’s answered when a high school student, Toby Baer, and his mother and father and brother and sister decide that they can do something to make the world better, and they organize a basketball tournament four years in a row to raise funds for Lamp. It’s answered in an email I received recently from Dr Hyppolite, who told me that while there was a shooting in the zone of our health center one day earlier, the staff is back to work today, unshaken and resolute. It was answered when we provided emergency care to the homeless and injured following the 2010 magnitude 7.0 earthquake, and it continues to be answered each day when we see, and are moved by a mother’s warm embrace of her baby, made well because of treatment they’ve received at Lamp.
We all yearn for meaning in our lives. I am convinced that it’s all around us. Tragic events will continue to befall our world, but when we ask the right question and see such creative and courageous and loving responses, we’ll be strengthened anew.
Today I’ll invite you to set your alarm on your cellphone for 4:53pm, the exact time at which the earth shook so violently eleven years ago. Let’s reflect on that tragic event , but not stop there. Let’s look for meaning in our world and today and let’s work in some concrete way to reflect that meaning to those around us.