On Broken Parts in Regular Towns: Alabama, Arkansas, and Haiti
On the way to Alabama last week, my Ian said, “I love to be me.” It caught my breath, like the purple clover fields holding buttercup bouquets. In my part of the world, God plants the grass. That’s how I like it best, how my Ian is so untouched by the world.
I am in my 34th Spring and every one of them has been a surprise. A double row of bradford pear trees lining a driveway makes a house look new. It doesn’t matter how raggedy the place is, when the red bud blooms and the wide leaves of tulips reach their arms up like the resurrected from the ground, the surge of life casts an air of hope.
After a week with the family, I drove us back to Arkansas, but when we hit I40, and the 18 wheelers choked up the road, I slid out an exit as fast as I could. I always do. A little south of there is the real road, Hwy 70. It’s a road that stops you with its lights. It’s a bleeder. We only know we’ve come to a new town because we saw another courthouse. Houses don’t get big. Everything stays small. Children play outside. Buddies talk at the gas stations. Craig’s Barbecue makes eyes roll back in heads. There’s a straining and a dirtiness. There’s an element of touched, handled, familiar. There are no doe-eyed hipsters. Everybody is just regular, regular like flip-flops and tank-tops, like clover and daffodil.
Many along Hwy 70 and back at my home, too, keep stuff in a shed and sometimes spread in the yard and on porches. They keep the broken parts of everything just in case the opportunity arises to make good on something else broken. Sometimes the broken parts are a sign of surrender, and sometimes they’re a sign of hope. Broken parts make me feel at home. A people waiting for things to come together, those are my people.
I leave for Haiti in 9 days. And I am a regular girl from Alabama and Arkansas. I am made up of broken parts.
Not all of you know what I’m talking about, but some of you do. I like to talk about home with you. I like to know as much as I can what it is we’re talking about when we talk about home. What’s the invisible thing inside it?
When I go to Haiti and look for what is home there, too, could I ask the ones of you who are regular to help me see as one who longs for home? If I know you’ll be here with me, I’ll come to you and tell you the smell of it, what it tastes like.
We’ll see a lot of things, but I’m most unaccustomed to seeing the faces and learning the laughter of victims of human-trafficking. So this will be a shift to me. Could I ask that you shift with me? But what of our hearts? Well, I just don’t know yet.
I do know that I’m going with folks who know the regular people there doing the real work on the ground. I’m not going to witness the work of great Americans. I am going to Haiti to see Haiti love who she is.
Last year 32 kids were rescued out of trafficking there, and 7 of them were reunited with their families. Help One Now initiated Garage Sales for Orphans (GS4O’s) to help complete phase one of a home that keeps the 25 children who didn’t have one. Regular people from many of our towns joined friends and family to gather and sell what had been saved in attics and closets. They paid for Phase 1 of what these children call home in Ferrier: the walls, the roof, the place where they get their names, their ideas of love.
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Your comments in those places will be your arms linking with the likes of many regular folks. I hope you’ll take it all in with me.
Now listen to the sound. A spoon sounds the same here as it does there when it ladles up along the inside of a pot. I love it!
The photos are from the spectacular Scott Wade, who is a founding member of Help One Now and will be going with us. He went with Seth to Ethiopia, and Seth calls him Lion Man.