Ever since Janury 12 we have been aware of the plight of Haiti. Certain images hit me hard. On the front page of the Chicago Tribune a photograph looked up at a compacted pile of concrete beams that had once formed several storeys' high apartments. My eye travelled up to see on top an exhausted Haitian rescue worker, framed against blue sky, standing and bending over to look below. Then, to my horror, there was one arm obtruding from between the massive beams.
And another photo showed three children all standing bravely to attention against a whitewashed wall. Two boys Bethill, aged 16, Berlau George, aged 13, and a girl Bioutelle, aged 11. Now fatherless, for their father, Bienne L'Amerique, aged 46, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Port-au-Prince, had died in their house.
There are countless stories of loss and each one poignantly calls for compassion, prayer and financial response. But just focussing on the loss of one pastor, seeing his family, imagining what's left of his church, trying to picture what lies ahead has been sobering reality day after day.
In the news cycle Haiti's earthquake is already beginning to lose prominence. But it has not only invaded my prayer life and imagination, but provided stark perspective to my January. In a mixture of highs and lows some matters have seemed so important. Yet concrete beams and three children standing silently keep reminding me of what really matters. The gift of being alive, and the responsibility to live fully for God.