Originally published August 26, 2014
The contrasts are what keep coming back around to surprise me.
The contrast between the summer temperatures here and there. The contrast between traffic here and there. The contrast between a meal here and there. The contrast between me filling a glass with cold, clean water from a tap and a child pleading for “dlo” from a small plastic bag sold on the side of a hot, dangerous road.
But most of all, I keep thinking of the contrast between the smog-filled skies as we flew into Port-au-Prince and the startlingly clear sky on our last night in Montrouis. Standing on a beach that night, I looked to the heavens and saw the Milky Way spread across the sky as if God had taken one last swipe of His paintbrush and scattered the remnants of the galaxies still clinging to its great bristles across the dark canvas of night.
When we arrived in Haiti, I was a man searching for clarity. On that last night, I saw more clearly than ever before, and I no longer know how to live as if I’d never seen those stars. They are seared into my consciousness alongside the faces of Naika, Wilna, Vladimir, Winston and all the others I met and came to love in Haiti.
How can I pull the covers to my chin in an air-conditioned house knowing they ache for a breeze to blow through their windows and cool their stifling rooms? How can I go about the busy-ness of my former life knowing what I’ve left behind in Haiti?
I told a friend today that I can’t escape the feeling that everything I do here in Suffolk, Va., is less important than anything I did in Haiti. How does one live with that knowledge? How does one readjust to a life of deadlines and meetings and lunches and television programs and all the rest of what constitutes what I always thought of as a normal life when he has seen and touched the Kingdom of God?
Never have I felt so close to that kingdom than in Haiti, giving water to a thirsty child, worshipping with men whose language I couldn’t understand, holding a child whose only clothing was a T-shirt.
I found clarity in Haiti, and I lost my self in the process. My life is His. I will go where He leads. I will seek His glorious kingdom and give Him the petty little world that I’ve built for myself.
I’m not at all sure what this means — even my new clarity doesn’t allow me to see that far. But I will wait upon the Lord, and I will remember His promises.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33 KJV)
— R.E. Spears III