That Moment

Sometimes you can sense the moment when something profound happens. It was so last night.

Six months ago, the Steering Committee of The Atlanta Church Group decided to find ways to “bridge the gap” between ourselves and the people of the EcoVillages of Haiti, with whom we are building a school.  The gap is daunting. Differences in language, technology, wealth and culture make us seem far apart, not to mention the fact that most people on each side of the divide will never meet one another.

Unclear about how to proceed, we initiated a “big think”  -- brainstorming sessions with a wide circle of people.  Out of that came fertile ideas and talented people willing to travel to Haiti to take on the challenge.  This April ten of us went to Haiti, in part as representatives of our friends in Atlanta to bear the good news of our compassion for them.  Also, we sought to capture images and stories to bring home to our Atlanta friends.  Then, last night we met with more than 200 of those friends to complete the act of connecting across “the gap.”

This is when the moment happened.

Dr. Kristy Gordon, our sociologist (doesn’t every group need a sociologist?) stood to tell of her experiences in Haiti.  She spoke about her ambivalence about going there, about worry that even in-person the gap could not be bridged.  She spoke of the smiles and the warm welcome that put her at ease.  Then she talked about “this little guy whose mother had dressed him for a morning at church and the chance to meet those Americans.”  He was sitting through another meeting, between women of the villages and the American representatives. That’s when this little boy climbed into Kristy’s lap.  And fell asleep.  A child’s relaxed, trusting sleep.  This photo accompanied Kristy’s story.

“It was the weight of that child’s body…” Kristy continued.  This was the moment.  There was a visceral -- visible and audible -- response from a room full of people who have held their own sleeping children and grandchildren and church children and friends’ children. They knew at that moment how precious these Haitian children are.

We set out to build a bridge.  Who would have known that the bridge would be a child’s trusting body?

There would I find a settled rest, while others go and come;
No longer a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home.

from the hymn "My Shepherd Will Supply My Needs”, paraphrase of Psalm 23 by Isaac Watts