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Synchronized Rhythms: A Traveler's Reflection

Mon, Oct 17th, 2011

Blog By: Christine Granja, of Southbury

Well, it has been a week since I've been in Haiti and I miss it and the people very much already!
Although I will be processing this for a long time; all that I've seen and experienced, I wanted to take some time to reflect on our time there.
Sa je pa we, ke pa tounen. What the eye does not see, the heart does not feel.
This saying is so true. I thought I knew what to expect from taking this immersion trip to Haiti, I thought I knew what I'd see, feel, smell. This, a distinct, faded memory of my short stay in Port au Prince harbor twenty one years ago while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard-was not sufficient!
I have learned that though our 5 senses have alot to do with how we experience things, there is a 6th sense that needs to be roused in us all, in order to fully appreciate any new experience. This is the sense of spirit, of heart, of love. I read a passage in the foreward of a book that sits on the shelf in the Mission House in Petionville. I don't believe in coincidences, as I felt compelled to open the cover after reading the title of the novel.
To paraphrase the passage, it speaks of how heart cells beat at their own rate when separated....This represents to me how I was growing up in the U.S. with all the privileges and opportunity that's available, while only a short plane ride away to our south, a small country exists with such an opposite state of being...poverty, despair, unrest. My heart was closed to the larger issues that lay on the horizon. The passage goes on to say that when pushed together, heart cells will synchronize their pulses and that they even start to synchronize slightly before they touch.
This relates to our recent twinning with Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, and my organizing the 5K road race in April 2011 "Hoof it for Haiti". I felt called to do something shortly after a visit to our parish by Father Tristant, and my response was to do what felt right & natural--hold a fundraising road race in my community to bring awareness to others about Haiti and the community of our brothers and sisters in Christ in Grand Boulage. Before I touched the ground in Haiti, this "synchronizing" was taking place!!!! The passage continues by saying that it is not known how this communicating between heart cells takes place, but it may explain how social animals bond, how pets seem to sense when their master is coming home, or even how people fall in love, one heart calling to another.
I would even add that it is how I came to fall in love with a country, Ayiti, and her people. I felt it in the hospitality of the staff at the mission house, I felt it in the guest speakers who spoke with passsion about what their work in Haiti encompasses (and what it doesn't), I felt it in the prayerful reflections we held each day, and most of all, I felt it in the great outpouring of love and friendship found almost everywhere we stepped....Grand Boulage and her great feast day, our meeting with the people in the village, the visits we made to various programs in and around Port au Prince, such as Mother Teresa's and Madame Samson's. I really sensed God's presence in these places, and in these people. My heart began beating to Haiti's rhythm.
As I boarded the plane to go home and see my family in Connecticut, I worried that my rhythm would change back to the rhythm of everyday, ho-hum routine life in my hometown....and thus be out of sync (out of touch) with all that I saw and experienced in Haiti. I missed Haiti already! Yet at the same time, I was sync'g my heartbeat back to my family, who I missed incredibly, and I felt blessed to have so much to return to. I felt guilt-ridden after all that I saw. I know that I am still very called to be Christ's hands and feet - both in CT and in Haiti! I will return, hopefully soon. And I have not lost that rhythm, as my dreams still focus on life in Haiti, my awareness and conscience has been raised higher by communicating to others what I experienced. Even though it is hard to put into words, it must be spoken....It must be communicated.
Thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime, to be able to stay in the Norwich Mission House, to be a part of your days and Jean Baptiste and his family, a wonderful family!!!! To all the staff members at Outreach and at the mission house, you made the experience a rich and fullfilling one!
I hope to speak a little more Creole when I am there next, and I have taught my family the grace before meals we sung during our stay!

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