A Journey Through the Dust of Haiti

Remembering a Conversation in Haiti


Transportation in Haiti 2014, (c) Colleen Briggs,

Amber-diffused light ignites the dusty air with tender touch of setting sun. Beads of sweat and sighs of labor sift back to earth as day seeps away. Meandering people speak in a lilting language I do not know, mingled with children’s playful giggles.

Suddenly, conversation shifts, from easy walking-camaraderie to bedrock. The Haitian man beside me tells a tale of trauma and heroic response, tears of gratitude, and purpose fall into the dirt at our feet. It is one of those moments when I know I am exactly where I should be, a divine appointment set from the foundation of creation. Dust to dust, his testimony calls like a secret passageway suddenly yawning open. Eagerly, I step through.

The fingers of my soul grasp at his words like crumbs from a higher table, like invitations, like diamonds glittering in the exhaled breath of a sleepy sun.

He is not bitter for what happened. Surely if any could question God, he might. There in the service of the King, catastrophe struck. He was not protected, he was not spared. He suffered. And he blesses God for winnowing his soul through the valley of the shadow of death. I want them to know, he says, how very good God is.

As he tells his story, every cell of my being is present. Gratefully I receive the words like fire, allow them to burn the dross. My humble frame, made of the same stuff that floats on the air, cannot contain this glimpse of majesty. Shards of his joy and courage pierce all that I am up until that moment. I emerge from shattered chrysalis into the new skin of who I will be from this time forward.

Standing there in a rural Haitian town, choked with emotion, I see clearly. More than ever before, I know – he is more than dust. And so am I. Blinded as though looking directly into sinking sun, we cannot see the King. But in that moment, we are fragments of dust set free. No longer earth-bound, we are embers afire in the light of His glory.

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