As a way to enter in to Lent – the following reflection from an Episcopal Bishop in Haiti…
A Lenten reflection from the Bishop of Haiti
‘I look at this as a baptism’
By Jean Zaché Duracin
January 12 was a terrible day for the Haitian people. The earthquake left not a soul untouched. There is not a single family that did not lose a close friend or member: Mothers, fathers, siblings, in some cases entire families disappeared.
As for resources, we have next to nothing. The wreckage is beyond imagination.
However, this situation delivers us into faith. I look at this as a baptism. We who are still alive have had the blessing of survival, but in many ways we have died to the ways of the past. We have the opportunity to rise up and start anew. In this moment of grief and mourning, life must continue.
During this Lenten season, it is important for us in Haiti to turn inward and rediscover all that is just within us. It is imperative that we be reborn in this moment. We will live without the physical trappings of the church because we still have the same spiritual guidance, the confessions, the conversations, the reflections.
We need faith. We must go forward with confidence and hope. The Haitian people are fighters. We will not give up. We must see within this situation the possibilities that exist. Jealousy, anger, hatred – this is not the time for these. We turn to Jesus Christ, who did not fall into temptation; though he was in hard situations, he overcame death in victory.
We await the resurrection of Christ as we explore what is found in this wreckage. Dear ones were lost, houses, clothes, possessions, memories – lives are reduced to nothing. The church lost precious belongings, and the physical foundation of the state is in ruins.
Yet, we Haitians are speaking to each other in new ways. We can look at each other with new eyes. We can create a society of respect and love so that we may truly live as children of God. This is how we can rebuild our country.
We have also seen how other people – other nations – love us. The people of this Episcopal Church have sent countless messages witnessing sympathy. Knowing we are not alone gives us confidence in new life. We receive comfort and consolation in our relationships.
My wife was injured in the earthquake and left to seek medical care. I cannot visit her. I miss her and wish she were here with me. It is difficult to be separated. But this separation has given me solitude and has enabled me to reflect in a new way about how to proceed in a life founded in God as a Christian.
It is natural to question, but we hold on in faith to God – God who is always good, the God of infinite compassion. That we were struck by this tragedy does not mean God is not with us. He is here. We must always remember that God lives in this world. There is pain, but there is also joy. He gives us assurance not of the life that ends, but the life that is eternal.
The earthquake did not diminish our worship, though it altered the places where it takes place. The church has not faltered and must now rise to a new role. Belief in Christ and love for our Lord carries us into a new phase of construction. We will raise new places to worship God.
We are looking forward to a celebration of Easter; familiarity of religious practices sustains us. We give glory to God. We sing within the church of the world. We celebrate life with the same spirit we were given it. In the middle of all the deaths, there is a God of love and of life, and we must shout Alleluia with the living.
—From an interview with Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin of Haiti, conducted in French and translated by Cecily Hutton, assisting the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti and Episcopal Relief & Development in relief and recovery efforts in Haiti.