Port au Prince, Haiti Day 1 Trip 2

Touched down today at 12 noon, on the second commercial flight to land. I was meant to be here earlier, but many flights scheduled for today cancelled or made dramatic changes to departure time–my originally scheduled flight actually left 2 hours early! So, I missed it. Thankfully I found a seat on American Airlines.

I have one thing to say after landing at the badly damaged international airport: Bless the US Air Force. Our arrival was very smooth, from circling while we waited for clearance, to being guided into the crowded airport to find a disembarkation place, and—for the first time in 12 years of landing here, a jet way met our plane! Despite the obvious destruction to the airport, we were led through a spotlessly clean, fresh brand new partial airport complete with signs in Kreyol and English, someone to guide us, an escalator, friendly USAF service members, the same local band that has always played cheerful, soulful traditional music, and, efficiency and welcome. The bags were off the plane in record time—and there were a lot of them! Despite there no longer being a conveyor belt to offload luggage, and our waiting for our bags in what looked like a brand new warehouse space, the system–based entirely on people—-was friendly, fast and even fun! It was a bit of a zoo, but instead of stressing and grumbling, people laughed and helped one another, and a few of us even danced a ti danse.

My first day back has been heartwarming. I was greeted with hugs, happy “Bon swa Amber, m’te tan ou, m kontant ou la” (Hello Amber, I waited for you, I am happy you’re here”). I instantly met with several people who were visibly lighter, livelier and eager to share how little things we talked about or methods I taught them or something we shared still supported them. Gratitude.

While this lightens my heart, I still experience moments of strong sadness and find myself suddenly moved to tears. Their is still so much destruction, filth, reports of increased rapes by gangs who are re-organizing in the chaos, and loss. The grief seems like a tiny flower pushing up through the heavy soil of the initial shock. Tiny, and heavy, too—-a flower bowed towards the earth because the sun is invisible.

I encourage those of you reading this to check out the song “APPEAR TO ME” on one of my very favorite Band’s–Round Mountain–website (downloading it supports local Haitian NGO’s). I listened to that song repeatedly on my journey. It invokes in me the softness of a certain time of night during ceremony, when the wind picks up, a gently provocative breeze, and shadows and moonlight and stars whisper the presence of Spirit. There is a depth, a stillness, and the yearning that calls humans to seek the presence of God, Spirit, Great Spirit, Allah, The Divine, Goddess, Divine Mother—every manifestation of divine love there is in this world. Its the bareness of being human in an ocean of mystery. The song is an invocation to grace.

Mesi Anpil Round Mountain.

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