I have a tremendous amount of privilege and, generally, my complaints are those of a privileged person. I need to replace my winter boots. My new iPod doesn't work with my car charger. I need to find a new doctor for my son. It's logistically difficult to get my daughter to her martial arts class. I need to put gas in the car but it's so cold outside. My job is not feeding my soul. Most of the time, I recognize that these aren't really problems at all but sometimes, when I'm tired and overwhelmed, they seem like hardships. I'm not proud of this, simply honest. I have no idea what it is like to search for clean water to drink. I have never had to sleep outside because I had nowhere else to go. I've never gone without medical care nor have my children. I've never wondered how I would provide food for my family and my children have certainly never been truly hungry. It's easy to take these things for granted. It's easy to look away when tragedy strikes elsewhere because it's painful to see devastation. The powerlessness feels unbearable. After the earthquakes in Haiti, I chose not to read the news, chose not to see the pictures, chose to speak of the situation in intellectual terms. It was easier that way because I didn't want to think about the fact that Luisa was in Haiti last month and didn't want to think about what might have been had the timing of her trip been different. I didn't want to think about her work there and the fact that it is now unlikely that her projects there will come to fruition. I didn't want to think of the death and destruction. I didn't want to feel anything at all.
This morning, Luisa and I overslept and I woke up with a horrible headache. I was rushing to get ready for work and, as I packed my bag, I caught sight of the two churches made of paper that Luisa brought back from Haiti and gave to the kids at Christmas. They are three dimensional building made from poster board and have intricate rose windows and doors cut out that are covered with brightly colored tissue paper. Their beauty is not fully revealed until you place a lit candle inside and they glow from within. I stopped and simply stared, remembering how Luisa carried them home in her hands because they are so fragile. Now, they sit safely on our shelf while so much of Haiti lay in ruins.
I've read the stories now. I've seen the pictures. I've felt the powerlessness that I kept at bay these past few days. Tonight, I plan to light those churches and, as their colored light dances across my walls, I will give thanks for all that we have and remember that our responsibility extends past those right in front of us.