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02/20/2003 Entry: ""One sunrise closer""
"Ride Captain ride, upon your mystery ship."
"Come sail away, come sail away."
"Distant shores are calling me."
Scanning the radio dial, loafing in-between frequencies, certain snippets stick out not like sore thumbs, but like hitchhiker's thumbs, testing the winds and the directions of their movement. Tonight, let's say a breeze is blowing from the south, rustling my hair and my dreams and filling me with journey breath. Haiti is calling.
"I am on a lonely road and I am travelling, travelling..."
I went to a meeting tonight that detailed the itinerary and nitty gritty of the April jaunt. It's a dive in to a world so vastly different from our own, that one can be assured that upon returning it is not you who returns but a new being in your clothes. To some, it would inspire great fear to step into a place that appears so broken and magled. To others, the goal is to reveal the heaven in a place some would call hell, raising up from a bloodied Earth a blossom of hope.
"A dream is like a river, ever changing as it flows..."
Most white people who go there aren't there for the scenery, but too many go down to evangelize and attepmt to convert; something I find not only incredibly rude but also a strong indice of cowardice. To wish to change the belief system of another culture is not an act of love, but an act of fear. Most missionary work I find to be a fear of difference, a spiritual xenophobia. I have been asked if mine is a mission trip... sure, I'm on a mission to accomplish something, to change something, but that thing that needs the changing is within me. I cannot change the heart or mind of another, but I can hold an orphaned baby or nail shingles on a roof. I cannot change the soul of another but I can hold out my hand as a fellow human, and laugh and cry with them even if we don't understand eachother. I will be there to witness, to learn, and to love. It's the least I can do, and sometimes, it's the most I can do.
"...the truth you might be running from is so small, but it's as big as the promise, the promise of a coming day."
We may attend a voudoun ceremony while down there. Voudoun is incredibly misunderstood, a perception bred by Hollywood exploitation and the western queasiness over unfamiliar ritual. It aims to maintain a balance in the universe... that darkness is inevitable, so lightness must match it and keep it in check. It is a blending of faiths from the many tribes brought to Haiti by the colonial French from western Africa, including symbolism from the now-extinct Arawak indian tribes and from Catholocism, the latter a kind of 'sheild' to protect them from zealous persecution. Many affairs are conducted in secret, but some rituals are open to the uninitiated... yet you must have a purpose. You don't call up the spirits for nothing, so you best be prepared. I'm already calling, slowly and quitely, in my own way. My purpose? How can I best serve the Holy in this lifetime o'mine? Into what modality should I pour my vision? From whom do I have the most to learn?
"Look out of any window, any morning, any evening, any day. Maybe the sun is shining, birds are winging, or rain is falling from a heavy sky. What do you want me to do, to do for you to see you through?"
I've turned off the radio and the house is somewhat still. The cats are a little restless and the housemates zing to and fro, cabinets creak and floorboards sigh. Haiti seems so far away right now, from today, from this way of life, from the to-do list and sarcasm of late-week emails. Yet as surely as morning will come, the house will be abuzz again and that step on foreign soil will be one sunrise closer. I think this is going to be a very, very important time in my life. Sure, anytime is the right time, and anyplace is the right place, but time and place are just inkstains, will outweighs when and where, and intent makes the magic.
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