January 19, 2010: The Skin Were In

Seven days ago to date, while I was consciously deciding on the nature of the upcoming weeks’ commentary, at the same time, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake was hard hitting the Caribbean nation of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The after effects of that catastrophic event continue to leave me dismayed.

The day after the earthquake, I thought heavily about one native Haitian friend, who had just returned not more than thirty days prior from visiting over the holidays. Some of her children, grandchildren, siblings, nephews and extended family were all residing in the Port-au-Prince domain at the time of the trembler. That day while at work, I crossed paths with my friend in the hallway. I walked up to her, looked in her eyes, squeezed her hand and hugged her for minutes on end. We never spoke a word but I could feel the capitations of her heart pressed up against my chest. Her skin felt just like mine and she was shaking, like I’m certain the earth did in her hometown the day before. She cried; I looked at her. I made known to her that she’d been in my prayers and I would continue to ask God for mercy for her family many miles away.

As a friend and humanitarian, words cannot merely begin to express the heaviness my heart holds in regard to Haiti’s devastating disaster. I remain equally as distraught by that of 2005’s Category 3, Atlantic Hurricane Katrina that hit East New Orleans; 2004’s 9.3 magnitude, Indian Ocean Tsunami that vastly struck eleven countries; 2002’s D.C.’s Sniper Scenario; and 2001’s 9/11 terrorists attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA. As I continue to reflect on these grave but probable occurrences, I am reminded of how very blessed I am to be standing.

We are indeed at the beginning of a hopeful, yet transforming decade, one that will bear us both good fortune – and very harsh realities. My greatest hope is that we cooperatively survive the next ten. We must be comfortable enough in the skin were in to assert ourselves when and where needed, regardless of personal opinion, gender, ethnicity, religion or political preference; those issues must be put aside for the sake of humanity. We must be compassionate enough to provide others with the comfort of encouragement, and offer our hearts and sometimes, our homes. And while we are celebrating the existence of our loved ones (or taking them for granted) others are weeping the many losses of theirs.

I’ve never experienced a natural disaster, had to live in a homeless shelter or eat a meal from a soup kitchen, but my circumstances have been challenged. Touch someone with a smile or a word of hope; it may affect a tiny part of their day or an immense piece of their life.

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