We are remembered

Wednesday in Holy Week in Haiti:

Dear Beloved in Christ:

On Palm Sunday at St. James the Just, during Communion at the English service, I introduced the congrgation to Taize music. “Do you know ‘Jesus, Remember Me?'” I asked. Most shook their heads no, so I sang that beautiful and haunting piece, the quotation from the thief who was crucified next to Jesus, one time through.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

By the second time through, the congregation, many of them first-time visitors, mostly aid and relief workers, had picked up the hymn. By the third time through, as Pere David Cesar, the priest in charge, and I distributed the bread and wine, the congregation had figured out how to harmonize. They sang softly and beautifully as they recieved the body and blood of Christ, making that holy meal even holier.

Tonight, Pere David and I broke bread together again, this time at a local hotel. Pere David, who is director of the Holy Trinity Music School and the Holy Trinity Philharmonic Orchestra, is a faith-filled man who glorifies God especially through his music. He is an accomplished musician, teacher, and priest. When the earthquake struck, he was in his office, and helped lead several people to safety as the building collapsed around, over and under them.

We talked about music throughout dinner, sharing stories. Me, I don’t know much about music. I can’t read it, don’t play an instrument, and am hopeless at counting. But I love to sing, and I truly love chant. Taize is part of my prayer life, and since the quake, I’ve had one Taize piece in particular running continuously through my soul: “Oh Lord, hear my prayer, oh Lord, hear my prayer, when I call answer me. Oh Lord, hear my prayer, oh Lord, hear my prayer, come and listen to me.”

I told Pere David about that chant, and showed him my Anglican rosary, which James, a new friend at Trinity Cathedral in Miami, gave me as a gift a few weeks ago. “I sing my prayer on this rosary,” I told Pere David. “It centers me in God.”

At some point, Pere David and I talked about using Taize again at our Maundy Thursday service tomorrow evening. He instantly translated the chant into French, and we decided to introduce Taize into other services as well.

Then, as I described the Taize community to my friend, and how it is a healing place for people from all over the world – and how I hope to go there one day – we began to dream of using a form of Taize to help Haiti heal from its wounds. We dreamed of building a labyrinth, with a garden and trees and the brilliant flora of Haiti, with a small waterfall, and of teaching people healing songs and chants at this new place of which we dreamed.

Haiti needs healing. It needs rebuilding. In the new creation that already is taking place here, we dreamed, for a few hours, of how to not only renew the land but renew the people.

The people here already are devoted to and dependent on God. God is alive and well and at the center of most people’s lives, especially in these dark hours. Music is an important aspect of their lives as well. Perhaps, we thought as we broke bread and shared dreams, we could take the most important part of people’s lives – God and music and prayer – and bring them together in a new way, to help us heal even more.

One thing we do not have to dream about: Jesus does remember us in Haiti.

Blessings and peace in this holiest of weeks,

Lauren

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About Lauren Stanley

All my life, it seems, I’ve been on mission. And it’s all my mother’s fault. You see, when I was a child, my mother was adamant: We were to help those in need, those who had less than we did. We were to speak for those who could not speak, feed those who had no food, give water to those who were thirsty.

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