August 2009: Mutual Connections
Truly I tell you, what you do unto the least of these my brothers and sisters, you do unto me. Matthew 25:40
Last Sunday we journeyed to the large ocean side slum of Cite Soleil, Haiti. After church concluded, we stepped outside and were immediately surrounded by children who wanted to hold our hands, touch our white skin, and simply be loved for a little while. The children were scantily dressed; most of them did not have shoes, several were without pants, and all of them were dirty and showing signs of malnutrition. The kids managed to navigate us through piles of garbage, puddles of stagnant water, and various street vendors cooking and selling rice and fried plantains amidst the overwhelming filth. Finally, we reached our destination where the children took us up steep concrete stairs to their new school. On the balcony of the school, we found a great view of Cite Soleil. The tin roofs of the tiny shanties spread out almost as far as we could see. Mothers washed clothes in large bowls of soapy water while their children played soccer in the street with plastic pop bottles. Yet, alongside the poverty and the repressive nature of Cite Soleil, the blue boundless ocean sat lining one of the edges of the massive slum.
The paradox of the site was profound. The ocean has always been the most spiritual and liberating manifestation of Being in the world. Seeing this beautiful expression of interconnectivity and truth sitting amongst some of the most oppressive poverty in the world was moving. In my opinion, one of the reasons that inhumane situations, such as that of Cite Soleil, continue to exist is because a sense of connectedness with others is absent for much of humanity.
I’m not sure that Kim and I have a more important job during our time in Haiti than to foster and explore this mutual connection both with the Haitian people, as well as with our friends and family back home.
Pray that we all will learn a more loving and compassionate way of being in the world that more fully reflects our divine nature, connecting us to all other people and to the natural world.
Patrick and Kimberly Bentrott are assigned to the National Spiritual Council of Churches in Haiti (CONASPEH). Patrick serves as advisor for theological education and diaconal projects and programs. Kimberly serves as an advisor for health care and diaconal projects and programs.