ogres are like onions…when you peel away all the layers…you find…more layers

I suppose I’m ogre-like in that regard. I’m not one to wear my heart on my sleeve (and yet…). In fact, I am one to add a couple of long-sleeved shirts to the mix, in case that I remove one in a moment of distraction.

So, it may come as a surprise for those of you who know that I have been involved in the humanities for oh-so-many-years that I almost…almost ended up on an oil rig somewhere in the middle of the Gulf working for an oil company as a geologist.

Go ahead. Laugh it up. I’ll wait.

Yes. Life certainly is entertaining. As an undergrad, it turns out that I exhibited certain skills for geology. You might know that I am a NAUI certified diver–you might think that it’s because I love the ocean. That’s true. However, geologists kinda like to study the sea bottom sometimes, too.

My incredible skill set included the uncanny ability to identify all kinds of rocks, even the tricky ones, before having to do other things like scratch it or taste it or pour acid/bases on it. I blame Sister Eileen Murray, GNSH, for instilling in me a grand appreciation for the natural world. That included a deep curiosity about plate tectonics.

It turns out that I was a beast at reading seismic charts in the geology classes. There’s more to that science than earthquakes–there’s physics and chemistry, which interested me less, so much to my professors’ disappointment, I followed my love of the arts to the English department.

Still, my understanding of what happened in the earthquake in Haiti has hit me, pardon the expression, like a ton of bricks because specifically, I studied that fault line, and having had a Haitian professor, knew, in the early 1980’s, that the Caribbean basin is an implosion waiting to happen.

Really, can Haiti handle another hit like this? The aftershocks are going to continue to wreck the island, and in its wake, wreck more lives and livelihoods in a country that already boasts a dismal condition.

I am close to this crisis for a couple of reasons. First, my parish has operated a medical mission in Haiti for years, and I have over the years been an active participant in helping to generate funds for its continued presence and projects in the area of Los Palis. I’m not in health care, so I have no cause to go, but in recent years the building of a parochial school there has gotten my attention and I think I could dust off my French (and here’s another layer, limited Creole) to see what I can contribute.

My father recently challenged me on my interest in Haiti because of our own familial ties to a Caribbean country in a similar dismal condition, Cuba–where poverty and oppression have reached epic proportions.  Short of financially supporting humanitarian missions, both to Cuba and Haiti, I have little else to offer but the opportunity to get the word out through my blog, which has a very small readership, mostly people who know me and have their own ties to Cuba, so to belabor that point here is to preach to the choir. Still, I do what I can.

And that, frankly, leads me to the second reason why this crisis has hit me rather close to home. Many people have perished in the disaster, including the Archbishop, Serge Miot. Now, his life is certainly no more nor no less valuable than any of the the other thousands who perished in this terrible earthquake, but it struck a deep chord in me because my own family still living in Cuba is exposed to all manner of the same kinds of natural disasters, whether earthquake or hurricane. It is especially touching because my uncle, a bishop, and beloved by his diocese lives his life as a shepherd ought — in the midst of his flock to offer them succor and guidance. Last year during the terrible hurricane season, I posted about the destruction of my uncle’s diocese. The Marist community in Miami jumped immediately to the cause to help rebuild the area through monetary and other donations.

We are asked to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters in Christ again. And every time we are called we should jump. It is our charge as human beings to help each other, in the spirit of Christian fraternal love, not out of some notion of karmic reciprocity, but because we understand and know that of the three theological virtues, the one that we are called to at the moment is caritas, charity.

I encourage you to give to any of the number of relief services working to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. I often give through Catholic Charities, but there are many. If, like in my uncle’s case last year, you happen to have access or knowledge of services that are providing direct aid, I often think that is a better choice.

And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’  (Mat 25:40)
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