When that earthquake hit Haiti a few months ago, it rattled me to the core.
The picture gallery on MSNBC.com had me as a crying, blubbering mess for literally hours.
People's livelihood (their homes, schools, and bodies) were scattered around like trash.
The father of one of my students was in Haiti when this happened, and he was unreachable for a whole week, meaning that she and I worried together for days. Math class just wasn't the same. As her teacher and guide for this short little part of her life, I felt so helpless. How could I reassure her of anything when I had no reassurance myself? But I did so anyway, and then I felt stupid for doing it. I couldn't give her any guarantees, so I shouldn't have tried. Fortunately, her father ended up being OK.
I can only imagine how much this tragedy in Haiti tore at our Savior's heart. I am sure that His fatherly hand immediately reached down to rescue and scoop up as many of His children as He possibly could, leaving behind only those to whom He entrusted a mission, even if it were the grace of suffering to teach others by example.
Yes, thousands of people died -- and I believe that, in God's mercy, every single one of them could have very well gone straight to Heaven, given the circumstances. Our Lord suffers ten times more when we do, and--when we call to Him for help--His mercy multiplies like wildflowers.
I've read that environmental catastrophes like these are Nature's way of groaning from the aching effects of original sin. Our world is, quite literally, in pain. Even the dirt and rocks are crying, if you listen. How can they not be, when they once saw Paradise, here on the face of this Earth?
We live, now, in a world where good and evil co-exist, and so we are affected by it. God has permitted this because He permits our free will, and this gives us the opportunity to act with autonomy and to love others and Him with authenticity.
With this privilege of life comes the responsibility of life, and we are all too aware of how one person's actions can negatively effect the innocent.
The tragedy that happened in Haiti is not a punishment upon those people. If anything, it is a reminder of the consequential (anticipated and not anticipated) effects of sin on the world. It is, essentially, what is known as the "butterfly effect."
I think this devastation effected me more greatly than previous catastrophes because I am now a homeowner -- with more things to lose. It made me realize again that--within seconds--the material world that we know now can change. Things can disappear. Empires can crumble. My physical body can get damaged and die.
This temporal world is passing, but only our soul is eternal. And, as I began to realize that this devastation could have effected my house or my body or my family, I began to wonder what responsibility I had, given that I was spared.
Somehow, the Holy Spirit provided me with an idea, the people to help make it happen, and the resources to see it through to completion.
So, for the last few weeks, my friends Greg, John, Jill, and I have been planning a Haiti Benefit Dance as the next fun event for our Lancaster Young Adult Catholics group. Yes, we've decided to host a dance, collect money at the door, conduct a 50/50 raffle, and sell hot dogs, hamburgers, sodas, and snacks in order to donate ALL the money to relief efforts that are happening in Haiti. In particular, our money will help rebuild several Catholic churches that were damaged, as well a Redemporist seminary that crumbled with the earthquake.
John, who's an experienced DJ, graciously agreed to volunteer his time, talent, and use of equipment so that we can have free entertainment!
Last night was our final planning meeting. We ordered two pizzas, and I served a healthy salad out on my back deck, christening my outside furniture for the Spring season! People didn't leave my place until about Midnight, but it was a fun night!
If you're interested in coming to the event on Friday, May 7th, stay tuned for an event flyer!