Of all the images from Haiti portrayed in the media these past several days, the ones which have affected me the deepest are the eyes of the people. They are the eyes of people who have lost tens of thousands of loved ones and countless homes.
I do not understand the language of the Haitian people, but their eyes communicate far more than words can express. It is said that the eyes are the windows into the soul. Through the media reports spread before us, the heart and soul of the Haitian people cry out to us. Their eyes contain the shock, sorrow, depression, anger, hope, and faith of a people who in only a few seconds have seen the lives completely shattered. They are people who are confronted with situations that are overwhelming and which bring to the hearts of the strongest the daunting question of where to begin in rebuilding lives and hope.
Last weekend a special collection was conducted in the churches of our archdiocese. Thank you to all who generously contributed to help those in need. This generous response will help Catholic Relief Services, an agency which has repeatedly shown great zeal and effectiveness in getting help to people in foreign countries throughout the world.
Having given this material help, and hopefully further assistance will come in the future, we must also remember the people in Haiti in our prayers. Prayer is powerful and our neighbors in this troubled nation need our spiritual support in addition to material help. Their loss is more than a loss of buildings and their recovery will entail more than bricks and mortar. It is the spirit of the people which is injured as well and challenged to have a resiliency which is far from easy to call forth. It is their faith which is tested in ways that only those who have endured excruciating sorrow and loss can know.
They must endure and cope with this tragedy for a long time to come. The earthquake has infl icted devastation upon Haiti which, even in a country blessed with material resources, would take many years to address. After all, even in our own country, with all our material resources, we are still repairing homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina over four years ago. We can only guess how long an impoverished nation such as Haiti will take to recover from something far worse than Katrina.
Right now our national attention is turned upon Haiti. But it is very possible that we will become tired of this story long before the story is over. Our attention to Haiti will begin to wane in the coming days. And as the days turn into weeks and the weeks into months, our attention will only occasionally be drawn back into the struggle reflected in the Haitian eyes. There is just so much attention we can give to a situation before we wish to turn our attention elsewhere. But let us not fail to remember our brothers and sisters both in the help we send and the prayers we offer.
Reprinted with permission from the Archdiocese of Mobile.
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.