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In the Interlude

June 26, 2014

As I have expressed before, Haiti has had a profound effect on me. Living cheek by jowl with its people, entering into their lives and inviting them into mine, to some degree sharing their austere existence, has been an adventure beyond my wildest dreams. By far the most profound were those exceptional moments when I looked into the eyes of some person I happened upon and recognized not only my own humanity, but also Jesus. In those moments I experienced the essence of communion.

This collision with a people from a world so different from mine in history, thought and feeling, along with the realization of the effect that my world has had and continues to have on theirs, has occasioned a re-examination of everything I believe in the light of the realities of that encounter. My experiences, or perhaps more accurately my interpretation of those experiences, has insisted that I test all I see, hear, and touch for its evangelical authenticity, and that I ask myself real, often painful and upsetting questions.  Increasingly I find this unfolding has led to a radical expansion of my appreciation of Jesus’ message, and consequently the necessity to “rewrite” my confession.

Since I arrived back in Canada, this interlude, if that is indeed what this is, is providing opportunity to give form and substance to that endeavor. Unsurprisingly to an avid reader of my ilk, a few authors have called out to me, challenging and encouraging me, sometimes offering rather unorthodox perspectives. Personally, I do not regard viewpoints differing from my own threatening, but rather as a gift, an opportunity to explore new ideas and test my own interpretations. (I use the word interpretations very deliberately, for isn’t that, in the final analysis, all we really have?)

I am comfortable in my own “home” and have no fear of opening my door to these strangers, regarding them as interesting guests rather than unwelcome intruders. I am well aware that any experimentation with interior life can be dangerous, and that by allowing myself to be influenced by these guests, I take the risk of not knowing how my life will be affected. But it is in entertaining them that new ideas are birthed, that new visions reveal themselves, and that new roads become visible. For though some of these callers turn out to be merely sojourners, occasionally I entertain angels who burn their indelible signatures into my very being.

Ofttimes I find truth in the words of some of those whom Christian reactionaries brand as “heretics”, an affirmation of what I already at some level know, and I find myself saying with Henri Nouwen:

“You say what I only suspected, you clearly express what I vaguely felt, you bring to the fore what I fearfully kept in the back of my mind. Yes, yes – you say who we are, you recognize our condition.”

Over the next while (I make no promises as to exactly what the timeline will look like) I will do my best to articulate some of the changes to (or perhaps better, clarifications of) my Christian beliefs my time in Haiti has precipitated. I humbly surmise that if I have the courage to put my own search at the disposal of others, to speak openly of my shifting beliefs, so might they find a modicum of truth therein, and thereby God may find some small way to use my words to profit.

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