room for more


Last night some friends came over for dinner. I made a pot of soup and someone brought bread, someone brought dessert. We don't have enough chairs so the kids ate first and then the adults sat down together, I don’t have enough plates so we had to wash a few when the kids were done.
I love nothing more on these long cold winter nights than to gather. Bring your children, your store-bought pie, your frazzled and weary week and come, take your coat off, sit a while. We’ll light candles, the children will be too loud and the table too small but we will come together anyway, and in the friction and rub of our passing plates and conversations over the cutting board, of elbows bumping at the table and children running, we will kindle together a warmth of friendship to sustain us another long dark week.
It is in these cold grey days that my mind wanders to the tropical streets of Haiti. To go anywhere in Haiti requires hailing a tap-tap- a small truck- scrambling onto the back with the help of outstretched arms. Always too many, the truck groaning and swaying, you settled in for the ride perched onto the knees and laps of strangers, arranging yourself clumsily around baskets of mangos, a chicken in the lap. The sweaty air of humanity. Always there was warmth and greeting, smiles and laughter. And you would swear that truck had reached capacity ten people prior, but it would come to a screeching halt anyway, more and more people waiting to get on, more hands reaching to pull them, no room but always room for one more.  

I was both young enough and idealistic enough to find this the most beautiful thing I had ever experienced.

I was not worthy of Haiti, I came home. It is ten years now and what can I do but remember; red, green, yellow, tropical blue swaying in the sunlight, the lovely brown skin and laughing eyes, hands pulling and shifting to make room for one more; always, always room for one more.
It is painful now, to think of Haiti from my cozy three-bedroom American home with a garage and two vehicles, two cars which easily would carry dozens and dozens of people but they are reserved rather for three carseats, a gaggle of stuffed animals, leaking sippy cups and the litter of granola bars and fruit snacks. God forgive us.
What can I do? I ask myself all the time. How embarrassing it is! To be so rich and still so empty, so powerless, my money a drop in a bucket, a grain of rice spilled on the sultry city street. All I can offer Haiti is my humility, my lack, my unfading love however unrequited.
There is one more thing I can do, that I try to do, and fail, but keep trying and that is to make room. There is always room for one more. I want to live this. If I can offer anything at all to the world, my love letter to Haiti, it is that I will make room, there is always room for one more.
It is the God I serve, who feeds five thousand and it is the call of motherhood, to make room for life. I hope I will remember to live this, keeping room at our table or in our home, hopefully more in our hearts and spirits. This is the poverty that Christ calls blessed; for this is the kingdom of Heaven.

Updated: 1/23/13

Please read this article via Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town: Letter From Haiti: Life in the Ruins

Comments

LisaM said…
It is painful for me too. (My parents are in Haiti as we speak) and it, too, has been 10 years for me.

Beautiful descriptors - I always appreciate your writing and especially about ma cherie, Ayiti.

L:sa
I loved your visual description of Haiti and the tap-tap. "There is always room for one more." - what a beautiful picture of the gospel and a beautiful challenge for life. Thank you for sharing this.
Jessica Stock said…
Elizabeth, I hadn't quite thought of it as a picture of the gospel but you are Right! I am thinking of this all the more deeply and fondly now. Thank-you for this!

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