At 3:00 today Robin came in to my house and sat down without saying anything as she was arriving. That is not usual and customary for her.
She pulled up a chair and sat right in front of me and simply said, “I need spiritual advice.”
I immediately knew what she would ask me and I knew she already knew the answer. And I knew I would answer her question with one simple question.
“Am I supposed to go to Haiti? I have had a plane ticket booked for January 21 for 5 months to the US which I always thought I would postpone and re-book out as far as I could. Now everyone is asking me to go to Haiti and I just don’t know. Am I supposed to get on that plane tomorrow?”
My only response was, “How will you feel on January 22 if you don’t go? Listen for the truth of that and you will find your answer.”
It was a calm and sober, simple exchange. We had both had to make a decision like that on more than one occasion when disastrous trouble happened in the world.
I finally tucked her in to bed at midnight, having concentratedly collected the medical supplies she would need on the ground in Haiti, finishing things that needed finishing at the clinic, arranging family… endless details.
We had been working for 5 days with aid agencies, donors, Direct Relief and a team of field workers getting ready to go to Haiti under the Bumi Sehat banner, always with the question of, “would we go?”
My answer came clear a few days ago, that I would wait a couple of months. Robin was adament that she would not…could not go.
I finished work at 3 a.m. this morning, January 21. As far as I could tell, the entire village was asleep, the frogs in the rice fields and night birds were the only noises. Even the Bali dogs were quiet.
I couldn’t sleep, wanting to make the lists of things that would have to be remembered in the next week before I leave…a list now much longer than it was yesterday morning prior to the Decision to go to Haiti.
Above the noise of the List, my heart claimed a space for some time…wanting to write these words:
For each one of us in the last week, the call of raw human suffering has, once again, awakened us in such a deep place, that to ignore the very best of whatever it is each of us has to offer, is to ignore the essence of
humanity…compassion, caring and love.
Please let yourself stay awake. Please give whatever you have to give with abundance and true love. Give to whomever you are to give to. Please give something every day. Please step every step in love and give with sincerity and with the awareness of human suffering. You will be given the truest reward of that love and generosity. It will reverberate through your entire life and then the life of those around you.
Every kindness…every awareness…all your giving…will spread like a gentle, penetrating wind, cooling the fire of human devastation.
Never stop praying. In every breath, pray.
Know that every little act of bravery and kindness for another person–every small sacrifice–every generosity–feeds hopelessness in someone which will change something in them forever and ever. And ever.
I have seen this transformation in the eyes of suffering men and women and babies and children in Iran and Russia, 9/11 NYC, Germany, Mexico, post-Katrina Louisiana, Aceh, Bali…and on the streets of Boston’s homeless men and women and children. And my own town.
This transformation…this moment of peace…is the memory that haunts the haunted…changing the nightmare of trauma and loss in a human disaster into the possibility of hope. Even for one moment.
Please don’t let yourselves forget the suffering. It’s a hard, determined, daily, open-hearted commitment to remember to keep remembering every day, and then to choose share love. To choose to make one sacrifice. To open to the possibility that your actions-every day-WILL be a cooling breeze for someone whose spirit is burning up from hurt.
I beg you to stay awake. In 30 days we will no longer hear of Haiti.
I will be hearing of Haiti for years from my co-workers in the field.
Robin leaves tonight for the US and will be in Haiti on the 25th, joining together with a team supported by Direct Relief International, a Christian organization and members of Team One Aceh…seasoned first-responders to set up a field clinic offering ongoing, long-term maternal/child health care and birth assistance, as well as general health triage.
I will stay put at Bumi Sehat Bali, helping to settle things here as a result of a very speedy decision and departure by Robin. She will be away 3 weeks and we will receive regular updates from her.
You can log onto the website: www.bumisehatbali.org to get updates. We are currently setting it up so updates can be posted.
Additionally, you will be able to make contributions to the Haiti field work from the Bumi website, through Sakthi Foundation. Every dime contributed to Haiti goes directly to the relief effort for Haiti. We have a vast team of volunteers who are keeping the logistics going…a valuable and necessary contribution of its own.