Skip to content

Carried on the Wind

February 27, 2012

When I embark upon a journey, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual (and those are seldom mutually exclusive), I most often have a plan, a map if you will, detailed at times, at others more general.  But while I often expend much energy in their creation, I’m not much good at following plans.  Or more accurately, I believe, my plans never solidify, but remain forever in a liquid state, mercurial.  My mettle refuses to be constrained by any fixed outline, and my heart is lightest when carried on the wind of life itself, never knowing where it comes from or where it is going, but with the unshakable confidence that it is God who fills my sails.  It gives me great comfort to know both that He understands this intimately for He made me thus, and that He loves His creation.

When I pause to reflect upon where the wind has taken me, rarely can I overlay my original charts with my actual route and see a great deal of congruence.  There have been headings I have chosen that led to ends quite different from what might have been if I had chanced to set my compass differently, ends neither intended nor expected.  But I trust in God that no matter where the journey takes me, it is for my good because He is my Captain.  Sometimes these voyages bring delightful discovery; other times they find me becalmed or driven toward treacherous rocks in stormy seas. Often they do both.  But I have the confidence of knowing that despite all appearances, I am safe, for His hand is upon the wheel.  He has trained me well; I need now only listen for His commands and heed them.  Such has been my journey of the past year.

It was one year ago today, February 27, 2011, that I first set foot on Haitian soil.  I tried not to be shackled by too many expectations, wanting to experience things as they are, but I did have a plan.  I would work with the people at Clean Water for Haiti.  I would be here for a long time, perhaps the rest of my life.  But the ink upon my chart flowed where it would, blurring the lines and resetting my course.  God had plans for me, and He saw no need to respect my own.

From the beginning Haiti filled me with wonder.  There were, and are, such sharp contrasts in this country.   From my first sightings of the country they were apparent to me:  a parched and deforested landscape shrouded in the smoke from burning garbage, rising from the jewel-like beauty of the Caribbean; the splendor of bougainvillea and oleander juxtaposed upon the rubble and the tattered tarps of the tent cities of Port-au-Prince; the all too apparent evidence of gut-wrenching poverty and human tragedy overlaid with festive music, smiling faces and laughter.

In Haiti, it seems, tragedy gives birth to faith.  Unwavering hope rises like a phoenix from crushing despair.  Strength somehow springs from weakness.  Wisdom emerges from childlike simplicity.  Unrelenting need inspires resourcefulness and creative genius.  National pride thrives despite the judgment and distain of the world.  With hands calloused from punishing toil, the wrists still raw from shackles, love reaches out even to those who forged the chains.

God has given me a heart for the people of Haiti.  I have been captivated by them.  Despite living in the instability and fragility of this nation, all too routinely characterized merely as “the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere,” Haitians are not victims.  They are a people possessing great strength of character—tough, courageous, resilient, resourceful and filled with hope.  I am often in awe of the power of the human spirit to endure and overcome that I witness in the people among whom I live.  They are a people filled with joy, a joy that is often expressed through laughter and music.  They are a welcoming and loving people who have accepted and embraced me.

God has been very good to me here.  Through many twists and turns He has met my needs immediately and amazingly, sometimes miraculously.  My departure from Clean Water segued seamlessly into radical changes in direction, some temporary, others more lasting.  He brought people I had never met into my life to play significant roles.  For my home He has blessed me with a little corner of Eden.  He has given me friends who often step up to assist me in a variety of ways, often before I ask.  He offers me opportunities to serve Him at every turn.  In answer to my prayers He has lately provided a church where I can worship Him more meaningfully and be spiritually strengthened through fellowship.

He has made Himself evident to me always.  He has been teaching me lessons about myself.  He has delivered me from fear, teaching me to depend less and less on myself and more and more on Him.  He has challenged me to carefully consider what is important in life and what is meaningless.  He has opened my eyes to see how everything I do has ramifications that ripple out into the world.   He continues to show me that despite what the world may believe, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God moulds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.

Henri J. M. Nouwen

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: