As Sara and I prepare to move back to the US next week, leaving behind in Haiti a year’s worth of work, challenge, periodic victory and sometimes defeat, it’s a time for me to reflect, reminisce, think about where I’ve been over the past year, in an effort to figure out where I am going in the one to come.
In the reflective spirit of Lent* (which begins tomorrow), I thought that over the next week I’d revisit some of my earliest posts to the blog, remembering the lessons learned, even the questions left unanswered.
So–since I’m busy packing up one life and moving into another, and since, at the blog’s beginning, most of you weren’t reading yet, I’ll resurrect the first post below and give you a glimpse of how it all got started 4 months ago:
So–the old blog is reincarnated here under a new name! It is, indeed, the Vietnam version “reinvented” from yet another edgy location–this time Haiti, where a cholera epidemic has spread to Port-au-Prince–my home for the next couple of years.
But before I address the big issues faced here on the western half of Hispaniola, I should clarify why I’ve chosen this new title. For my less geeky readers, an “event horizon” is the edge of a black hole, a boundary in the space/time continuum beyond which no light can escape—in many ways, a point of no return. You’ve taken physics; you know this; you’ve just forgotten.
Bottom line–it seems to me, that the far-away places Sara and I have been over the last couple of years have formed a kind of “event horizon” in my mind–taking me to the outer limits of my own comfort zone, shaping new perspectives in me about both the world around me and about this time in my life–a bending of my personal space/time continuum, if you will—–mind-bending for me, at the very least.
However, Haiti itself offers a kind of event horizon–a comparison I first found when reading Paul Farmer’s book “The Uses of Haiti.” Farmer begins his chapter of the same name with the following epigraph by T. D. Allman:
Haiti is not simply one more of those tropical dictatorships where to rule is to steal, and headless bodies are found by the road. Haiti contorts time: It convolutes reason if you are lucky–and obliterates it if you are not. Haiti is to this hemisphere what black holes are to outer space. Venture there and you cross an event horizon. (After Baby Doc, 1989)
Wrap you brain around that statement and you may begin to see why I’ve renamed the blog–because this place, this location has forced me to rethink my beliefs, not only about myself, but also about big issues such as poverty and hunger–and disease, for god sake! We’re in the midst of a cholera epidemic!
But even without cholera sickening folks by the thousands, we had an earthquake here last January, a hurricane last week, and a million and a half people homeless in Port-au-Prince today.
Was the earthquake an event horizon for Port-au-Prince? Will cholera bend time and space so there’s no escaping the dis-ease that’s plagued this place for centuries?
Is there light for Haiti?
Now, fast-forward 4 months.
Do you think the blog is fulfilling its mission so far?
And, even more importantly, if you have one, what task does your blog accomplish? What is its purpose? Tell us about it in the comments and leave a link. You might attract some new readers!
And don’t forget that tomorrow we’ll have our “Mid-Week Mindy,” tomorrow a reflection on Lent*. Mindy will be covering for me, answering questions, responding to comments.
* On the Christian calendar, tomrrow, Ash Wednesday, begins the season of Lent, 40 days of reflecting and fasting, leading up to Easter Sunday. For a beautiful mediation on the meaning of Lent, check out this post by my friend Jane over at PlaneJaner’s Journey.