Here in Brooklyn we have a very large Haitian community, and we meet up with Haitians everywhere. So I have been asking the Haitians I talk to for one name to pray for, and that means that now I am praying for Alfred, Margaruite, and Desiree. Aflred is the uncle of one of the custodians at Congregation Beth Elohim. Margaruite is the aunt of a friend.
Desiree is family of the woman who served me coffee at the Burger King at the NY Thruway rest stop yesterday. Her accent sounded Haitian, and I could see she was having a bad time of it, so I said to her, "You've lost someone, haven't you," and she said yes. So I'm praying for Desiree.
I don't know what specificially to pray for. That's okay, cause I don't know the people personally. I just repeat their names. To the God who created the world which has tectonic plates which have to move and cause earthquakes.
We're all stunned and numbed, of course. Some people are saying that some good will come out of this for Haiti, such as better buildings (when rebuilt), massive investment, and new attention from the world. Maybe. Maybe. I have no idea.
After 9/11 in New York we could blame the Terrorists. But where can we go with our anger over the death and destruction in Port-au-Prince?
I can't explain it, I can't justify it, all I know is that it drives us all into the depths of our faith and the deepest realities we know. I find that it doesn't shake my belief in God one bit, but it forces us beyond our limits and to the face of God.
It's not that I blame God, or even that I hold God responsible. I mean I do hold God responsible for creating this world with physical and chemical laws, and I thank God that the laws of nature are binding, and I know that the rock formations in Haiti were just obeying the law. So in a sense I do hold God responsible for this earthquake and also for allowing us the freedom to live our lives. So this does not at all cause me to lose my respect and honor for God.
By now you have been revulsed by Pat Robertson's idiot words about "the pact with the devil." (What is this guy like at home?) It wasn't the French they kicked out, it was their slavery. Their slavemasters were the ones, if anyone, who had made a pact with the devil. Not that the phrase makes any real sense, but for a Christian people to keep slaves and use slaves and support slavery as acceptable is, as the Bible says, "to make a covenant with death."
So where should we go with our anger? Well, it might be better to turn our anger against the inequitable effects of the political-economic systems which we support and which give us comfort and profit but which have their grinding underside and their usual victims. We have met the devil and he . . . is us?
But more important than that, I'm guessing that the people who are busiest in the work of relief have the least time to get angry or to look for someone to blame.
I'm also praying (I really am) that God will speak to me in my own life for how best I can do my part. Why don't you do the same. (And donate. See the entry below.)