Friday, January 15, 2010

Not From A Distance

Anderson Cooper at Qualcomm Stadium during the...
I've never personally experienced anything that I can compare this to; I have no context for it. The scenes I've seen on television from Haiti. I'm not even sure I can put it into words. When asked how he determined where to begin each day's reporting, Anderson Cooper of CNN said, the story was all around him, he could begin anywhere. And yet, this is only one piece in a puzzle of suffering that is global.

At the same instant recovery teams are trying to dig survivors out of the devastation, a soldier from Maine is on duty in Afghanistan. In the company of her unit, she left husband and children, and shoulders a weapon in a place where winter would make the hardiest of Mainers shiver. She cannot help a Haitian child trapped in the rubble, nor can she help her own with their homework. She's busy, on the other side of the world.

Beggar, you're a minister, or you used to be, what do you make of all this? Well, although I don't fill the role actively in a church, I still am one and it will always be a part of what I do. For me, theology is incarnational and has been, ever since that night in Bethlehem. In a very real sense, this means I'm not looking for God high up and far away in some ethereal spirituality that has little or nothing to do with where I live. If I'm going to find him anywhere, it's right here.

I'm not even going to begin to try to explain what happened in Haiti because I have no idea. And, as I've said in other posts, even if I did know why, it wouldn't change anything. So, if someone wished to know where I see the presence of God in something like this, my response is, look at the people. I see it in the eyes of a correspondent who hasn't slept in two days. If any meaning is to come out of this, it will have to involve the stories of individuals and their community being told, and it's his job to try telling them. I see it in a doctor who has to decide which patients he can help, who has no morphine to ease the dying of those he can't. I see it in the faces of Haitians parading through the street at midnight, singing and chanting encouragement to anyone within earshot.

Not watching from a distance, but imminent, engaged, present in every sense of the word. That's where I see it. It's the only place I can.


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