The Distribution of Grace

If we let Him, God will surprise us

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It’s so rare these days, for a real surprise to occur. To anticipate the expected and in return, receive something entirely new. So rare it is, we almost don’t see it when it happens.


The weeks leading up to my most recent trip to Haiti I scrambled for prayers. I overloaded myself with rosaries and novena’s and liturgy of the hours. Not that any of these are bad, but the way I was doing them, hurried and fearful and in need, well it wasn’t going to get me anywhere. Finally the 9 days before that little wretched American Airlines plane took off, I began my novena to Saint Joseph. Now, as I sit and process three days after returning, I find myself shaking my head in awe at how wonderfully my trip worked out. No, not ‘worked out,’ but rather, was orchestrated.


Anyone who leaves one life and comes into another drastically and without much warning knows what mean when I say it simply isn’t easy. I was faced head on with my sin this trip, the aftermath of leaving behind children who had put their hope and rest in me, in a way only a child can. They will come to know Christ as the Brother he is, but in the meantime, their little souls seek understanding, consolation. During night prayer on the roof one evening, Kendy, who is always in my shadows, hid in the corner, tucked into himself in the darkness. I hadn’t noticed him until I heard his sniffles, and after much coaxing and whispered begging on my part, he came and fell asleep on me, the tears still sliding down his cheeks as he slipped into dream land. I asked Brian, one of the best men I know, to carry him down the stairs to bed for me, since Kendy isn’t the baby weight I remember him to be. The moment he went from my arms to Brian’s, he began to kick and punch and sob. I hoisted his gigantic body across my own and he fell right back to sleep, somehow still comforted by me. After settling him in his own bed, I stopped for a moment and watched him. When I lived in Haiti, I never loved Kendy right. He immediately accepted me as his mother, but I hadn’t known what that meant. I tried, but I failed. Now, with my own son teaching me the ropes of motherhood, I was able to look at Kendy in an entirely different way. I bowed my head and asked the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy again, especially for the Body of Christ that was hurt by my decisions. I knew I was forgiven already, and this was just a call to not only prayer but action.


As much as I may try to put Haiti behind me, and even sometimes pretend it simply doesn’t exist, and never did, it isn’t what’s intended for me. God has given me new eyes, new friends, new grace, to keep bringing me back, not only to continue the healing in me, but also in the children. Finally, I have peace with that little country.


We were able to see so much growth since I last visited. Cam, one of the caretakers of the children, finally was given a house to live in. She has gone from home to home, breaking her back daily to provide the basic needs for her children. They invited all 22 of my missionaries into their very first home, arms waving wildly in praise, as her daughter said so boldly and accurately, “see what He has given us. The work He started and the promise He made to us is finally here, because He said it would be.” God always fulfills the work He begins in us, even if it takes forty years to do. Or our lifetime, for that matter.


We visited Labyen, a little old man who lives alone in a very broken down hut. He still works hard, still strives to squeeze the best out of every day. We all packed under his tiny home’s straw roof, rotting away with termites, and listened to him urge us to pray. He told us, so plainly, when he rises, he remembers Christ. During the day, he bows his head to his God, and in the evening, he gives thanks to the One who is always present. Like lightening I was struck, quietly, but forcefully, on what it means to really know our God. To walk every moment with him, where nothing slips out of sight from the heavens. For Labyen, Christ is his shadow, and they are never apart.


For my own silly, private life dramas, God put a stop to them. Haiti hasn’t been a place I’ve felt very called to these past 7 months. Too many worldly problems caught me off guard, wrecked my heart, put a nasty taste in my mouth. While there, I tried to summon the anger, the reasons I was upset, but Grace blocked it. I couldn’t even bring to mind the circumstances that led me to such hatred. This is vague, but the point is, even in our most difficult moment, God can, and will, take control, if only we let him. He’ll replace it with love. Because as we all well know, love covers a multitude of sins.


Again, God provided me with a little family to carry my heart through. Mary Francine, my soul friend, was brought into my life to heal, inspire, and console. So many times I was brought to tears by her sons, the way they care for their sister, their mother, me. I was called to holiness by their example, encouraged to come home and be a better daughter, something I am admittedly absolutely terrible at. These boys made my bones shake with hope for my future, something that very rarely happens, and stays. But I know the prints this family left on me will last a very long time, and then, when I see them again, only be renewed.


And the rest of you beautiful people who came on this little journey with me, how you change me, how you move me. Your compassion, your love, your generosity. How blessed am I to have the privilege of spending even an hour with you, let alone a week. My gratitude is endless.


Father Louis, thanks for making time. Your time is your gift, and it was received.


Is this a list of acknowledgments? Guess so. But it’s the only way I know how, words.


All those pesky little demons can go right back where they belong, to the foot of the ever giving cross of Christ.


Grace can, and will, always bring surprises, if only we be still.

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