Stand together

It’s April 13, 2013 at 10:44 p.m. at Le Xaragua, Haiti

We ate dinner on the veranda outside tonight – the sea lapping behind us. I walked down to the railing to take pictures and just look and talk to my soul.

I watched the waves (for about 5.5 minutes) and went to walk away.

“Why don’t you be still awhile longer?”

I’ve been in such a hurry lately and I keep saying, “Such-and-such feels surreal.” I need the surreal feeling to pass. I need to live in this moment.

There’s power in being still. It takes a healthy dose of bravery to press your fingertips against Earth’s dizzying orbit and will your spirit to absorb all the goodness, the heartbreak, the triumph, or the silence in each moment.

I didn’t get a chance to ready myself for Haiti.

Sure, I had everything packed. Shampoo, conditioner, my traveling pharmacy, clothes, notebook, cameras, but my mind and spirit weren’t ready. Parts of me were still in Kentucky, where I’d been three days before leaving for Haiti. Pieces of me were grieving my friend’s death, and still others were memorializing tragedy, and all the while I was running down my mental to-do list.

“Why don’t you be still awhile longer?”

That night, before continuing on into the Haitian mountainside, I allowed myself to breath in the ocean air, to let the waves take away my anxiety, my striving, my grief, my turmoil. I just stood there.

I just stood in the doorway of a room where a 34-year-old-man is dying of metastasized cancer in his shoulder.

I just stood on a stairway photographing a team of missionaries praying for an old woman with a badly broken leg who is surely dying in the home of a generous stranger.

I just stood in a school built by a pastor and his wife in a Haitian “ghetto” after they observed that the children they were feeding were not getting an education.

I just stood in a hospital courtyard while Death came knocking and claimed the life of a 13-year-old boy.

I just stood in orphanages and absorbed the love radiating from the children who hugged and laughed with the team.

And while I stood and raised my camera or poised my pen, my mantra swirled around me:

Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.

It’s a courageous act, but if we’re not willing to see, to hear, to touch, and to allow our souls to break with the hurting, the dying, the impoverished, will change ever come?

“If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.” – William Wilberforce

{For a sneak peak of photos documenting the E412’s work in Haiti, visit VoiceBox Media’s Facebook page. Stories and photos will be posted to the website soon.}

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