It’s Monday–An Enduring Good

Did you have a good week?

I was asked this question about my trip to Haiti more than a dozen times this morning but could never articulate an adequate response. On one level, the question seemed so normal, so everyday but my experience was neither normal nor everyday. I’m not blaming the questioner. It’s how we routinely engage one another in conversation about our favorite restaurants or afternoon naps or effective nasal decongestants or family cruises. But, there was nothing routine about this week.

Did you have a good week? No. I didn’t. To say it was good would delegitimize the lived experience of so many in Haiti who long for what I expect—a non-permeable roof over my head, three meals a day, and the leisurely possibility of hoping for something, anything different in my life.

I asked a 33 year-old mother of six children what she hoped for? The concept didn’t even register. “A good day,” she said, “is when my children get fed. A bad day is when they don’t.”

So, in some very important ways for this middle-class American, it was not a good week.

  • It was not good to sensually consume the sights and smells of the vast wastelands of trash and filth.
  • It was not good to be indifferent to the young children who were knocking at our bus windows while pointing to their empty stomachs.
  • It was not good to listen to the stories of kids who trek for hours to go to school only to be sent home because their family couldn’t pay the bill that month.
  • It was not good to watch child slaves enjoying the momentary freedom of a school environment that cares for them one day a week, knowing they will be sent home to endure the horrendous physical and emotional burden of their “masters” the other six days a week.
  • It was not good…
  • It was not good…
  • It was not good…

Paradoxically, though it was not good, it was essential.

How can we speak of God’s care for the poor from a distance? How can we articulate a global vision of God’s kingdom of love while only experiencing the suburbs? How can we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep when we have no idea what gives rise to another’s joy or what breaks another’s heart?

It was not good, but it was essential.

For worship the final morning in Haiti, I used the quote from Clarissa Pinkola Estes that has been my guide for the past few months.

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing…

 It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

There it was. In all that was not good, there were more acts—small acts of kindness, sacrificial acts of giving, transformative acts of compassion that, I’m convinced, are working to cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good!

Not good like the taste of a piece of chocolate, but an enduring good that tastes like hope!

  • The enduring good of a man named Maya who, once a child slave, now provides refuge and hope for a another generation of children in Haiti.
  • The enduring good of Erin who left her career in the for-profit world to lead the work of HTF and invite another generation of people to believe that change can happen even in a place like Haiti.
  • The enduring good of the caseworkers and teachers working tirelessly on behalf of the poorest of the poor.
  • The enduring good of a mother sacrificing everything so her kids can eat.
  • The enduring good of people of Peace who left behind work and school and family to have their eyes opened, their hearts broken, and their vision of God’s work expanded.
  • The enduring good…
  • The enduring good…
  • The enduring good…

So, did I have a good week? No.

Was I part of something that may work to tip the critical mass toward an enduring good? I think so. I hope so.

It’s Monday. Rather than hoping for a good day, do something, anything that works toward an enduring good! Peace. Kai

 

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