Holy Saturday in Haiti:
Dear Beloved in Christ:
On this Holy Saturday, the sun has set here and technically, we can make our proclamation of the Risen Lord. Technically. But we don’t do that in Haiti. Our tradition is that we wait until Easter morning to shout with joy. So we are, like so many around the world, still waiting.
That’s what Holy Saturday is all about anyway — waiting. The women were waiting for the Sabbath to end so they could go to Jesus’ grave. All of creation was waiting to discover what God would do next.
And that’s what we’re doing here in Haiti as well. We’re waiting.
People who need medical care wait for hours to be seen. People wanting food stand in line for even longer. Those living in the Tent Cities are waiting for more information from the government, to find out where they can go next, where they might be able to find a place to live. Students are waiting for schools to reopen. My friends on the streets wait for someone to come along to buy something, so that they might have enough money to feed their children for one more day, or pay a school fee when those eventually come due.
It’s not that Haiti has come to a standstill, with all this waiting going on. There’s so much happening here, day and night, as people try to remake their lives, that it seems the country never rests. In the area where I live, up in Petion Ville, above Port au Prince, the main road right outside the church is always busy. What wakes me up at night is not the sound of trucks grinding gears as they climb up or down the mountain, but any absence of sound. That’s when I find myself waiting, trying to figure out what’s going on, why the traffic has stopped, whether something is wrong.
We held our Easter Vigil tonight at St. James the Just. Before the service, we were waiting to see if we could find a new Paschal Candle … we had been searching for many days, but so far no luck. In the end, when we had waited long enough, we got out last year’s candle, with “2009″ clearly stamped on it, dusted it off and put it to good use again. While singing the Exsultet, I had to wait a few times while a man out on the street struggled to start his car, his engine grinding so loudly that I couldn’t be heard. As the darkness fell and became complete, it surely felt like the time had come to end the waiting. But because of the traditions in this place, we have to wait just a few more hours.
Haitians are patient people. They know how to wait. But I think the time has come to end all this waiting. I am as anxious to end Haiti’s waiting as I am to proclaim the Risen Lord.
Just one more night, Lord.
Then we can greet you anew, with great vigor and joy, shouting at the top of our lungs, “The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia!”
Would that Haiti’s wait for new life would be as short, and that it ends with the same joy.
Blessings and peace,