“None are so unholy as those whose hands are cauterized with holy things.”
-A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken
Some weeks are better than others. This tends to just be a natural fact of life. And this one has been a rough one. Power that blinks on & off, rarely strong enough to power appliances. Learning that an infant we have been seeing weekly was killed by her own mother. Very little sleep. Constant construction and chaos as the city prepares for Kanaval (Haitian version of Mardi Gras). A week where it feels as though ever person who walks into Klinik Jubilee is HIV positive, even a 16 year old who is 7 months pregnant. This week it seems as if the problems of every person walking on the street gets somehow transferred to being very personal. And that makes walking outside the door (ok, let’s be honest, it’s just a gate) a little intimidating.
While weeks like this are emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining, I find myself repenting. My biggest struggle tends to be to meet every person at a time. See each person as an individual. There tends to be a lot of asking in Gonaives: maybe because the country itself has an excess of NGOs or maybe it’s because there are not a lot of people walking the streets whose skin color is different. So my struggle of the day tends to be to attempt to listen to each person and hear each story, regardless of my ability to help.
“Give me one dollar.”
“What can you do for me?”
…all phrases that I hear frequently on my 8 block walk into Jubilee.
And, come on, I tend to do a great job. For the first 12 people. But heaven forbid you are that unfortunate 13th person to ask me for something. My patience has worn thin, I haven’t eaten lunch, my phone is ringing, or I am already in the midst of a stressful situation- I have such a myriad of excuses.
In the book of Matthew, the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 comes to mind. Remember it from the bread and fishes story during Sunday School? But it is not the miracle of Him producing enough food that I have been remembering. Before that miracle, Jesus was attempting to go into seclusion, to spend some time alone. But the crowds followed Him. And, get this, He had compassion on them.
There it is. Compassion. I read this story on Monday (if I didn’t believe Jesus was God on earth, this alone would have turned me) and have begun making it almost my mantra during that 8 block walk into Jubilee. Calm down, deep breaths, asking for compassion that I have the inability to produce on my own. Simple yet powerful. And I trust He is there encountering each person with me. Sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes waiting for me to ask forgiveness for my impatience. He has compassion on me as well.
"Oh love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in Thee
I give Thee back the life I owe
That in Thine ocean depths it flows
May richer, fuller be"
“Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”