As I was sitting down on the porch of our house in Mirebalais to write this blog, the afternoon rains slowly began to creep in. Dark clouds loomed off in the distance and were soon above us. It began raining in the mountains first, and a thick carpet of water made its way towards the porch and garden. In the garden, a beautiful tree sat, quietly battered by the rain. I saw a flutter of red wings flitting in and around some leaves of the gentle tree branches. A butterfly sought refuge underneath a leaf.
I found this scene to be a consolation from the life force of Haiti, as I have of late felt the same battering as this butterfly.
I have enjoyed a great deal of time at Sewanee mulling over different philosophies, stories about life and the human experience, science, and spirituality. I consider these to be leaves under which refuge can be sought. A leaf may be any story we use as humans to explain the condition of our life, and the world, to try and find some meaning and purpose. Stories and narration are everything to us. A story becomes the ground beneath our feet, the air we breathe, and path we walk.
But, as I am coming out of the fog, Haiti has been challenging the stories which I have been grounded in.
From aloft I come crashing down through layers of stories, realities, into unfamiliar territory. Sewanee is a far-off place, and feels something like a vague memory which might have been a dream. Where I find myself now is simply a world of different colors, where love, tragedy, success, friendship, and the concepts of family are different from my own, but somehow strangely recognizable. Like learning a new language, the concepts are related, but the presentation, the flavor, the shape and form, is utterly different.
To note these differences is one things, but to be drawn in and immersed in someone else’s universe, is another.
As I have left the fog, I have also left my tree, my own stories, behind.