“We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of those willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.”Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail
A man on his way home at day’s end on the road into Port-au-Prince.
It wasn’t long after I understood that a calling, with all its inherent sense of adventure, would take me to Haiti that I chose the name of this blog.
The Long Way Home. One of my favorite pop songs, (thank you Supertramp!) would often inspire me to take the long way home after leaving The News Leader office late at night in the early 1990s. Leaving work, I was due to relieve the woman who cared for my invalid mother. Barbara was a Godsend for sure. She stayed with Mom while I worked the 3 to 11:30 p.m. shift at the Leader. She would tell me to take my time coming home. She would be there.
Those extra moments of calm kept my sanity (mostly) intact.
Those were tough times. Our father had died not long before, and my siblings and I shared time staying with Mom. Those were the months I realize now that I learned that love is enmeshed with duty and that duty is a privilege. No matter how difficult the task, it will be done because, well, because love.
Anyway, when I came up with this blog, I was heading to live in Haiti — actual circumstances unknown (hence adventure) — and I wanted to record chapters of the journey. And Long Way Home meant something more to me than just a title — I was leaving home to make a new home knowing I would return to a former home.
I wasn’t wrong. And surprise! I had no idea how long I’d be in this former and lovely, warm home with my sister and brother-in-law until I (one day) will return to my lovely, hot home in Port-au-Prince.
The root of the word adventure is waiting. I wait.
It’s mid-January. I am working while I wait, and a couple of anniversaries have hold of my heart.
Twelve years ago, today a massive earthquake struck Haiti. I worked at The News Leader, and the early news reports came in about 5:30 p.m.
A powerful quake and weak infrastructure meant hundreds of thousands of people were crushed. Twelve years later, physical rubble is cleared but political and criminal storms still rage. People struggle still to come up for air and hold onto to dwindling hope.
It’s been more than two years since the instability and then pandemic put me back on the road home to Virginia.
Changes were coming
Eleven years ago, I’d fallen hard for the people of Haiti and had been regularly traveling there. I was making friends there, knitting relationships I depend on today for my work and my spiritual life.
Ten years ago, I learned of an opportunity to live and serve in Haiti as a mission co-worker with Presbyterian Church (USA).
A week later, I attended a Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Service for Peace and Justice. Young friends from Haiti who live in Staunton accompanied me. Their 5-year-old brother wanted to go along, so we brought him.
The youngster was on my lap so he could hear the Rev. Edward Scott recite King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail (if you’ve not read this letter, read this letter!). And recite it, Scott did. His arms moved about and his voice rose and fell, and he said:
“We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It
comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of those willing to be co-workers with God, …..”
Co-workers? With God?
And at that moment, with a small kid turning around to see what had jolted me so – that my way would take me to places I’d not known before.
Mission co-worker. A co-worker with God.
I’m not in Haiti, a sentence that not so long ago would make me sad. But I am at home. And my long way will take me back to Haiti.
It is a pleasure and an honor to serve the people of Haiti, to serve with Presbyterian Church (USA). I’m still knitting new relationships and networking and fortifying where I can and asking for help when I need it.
I’m on a Long Way. The way has not been easy, but love makes it bearable. And I’m grateful for all those I meet along this road.
Oh, and I’m renewing my efforts to contribute more regularly to this blog.
Thank you for reading!