5/21/2012

Walking, one step at a time: The future of the church in Haiti

Apparently there are some readers who have recognized that Preludium has been remiss these past days. Big events (or so they seemed at the time) have come and gone and life for most Episcopalians and Anglicans has been every bit as normal as always, providing of course that "normal" includes a bit of chaos.

I am in Haiti at the moment for a variety of reasons, among them attending the consecration of the Suffragan Bishop of Haiti, the Rev. Canon Oge Beauvoir. That will happen tomorrow. It is a grand occasion and should be good ecclesiastical doings.

Today we stopped by to see how preparations are going. The Cathedral without walls - quite literally- has been for some time a large metal roofed open sided structure behind where the ruins of the old cathedral still remain.  It didn't particularly look like an Anglican/ Episcopal cathedral, but rather like a somewhat established pentecostal tent meeting sort of structure. The altar area was a raised stage at one end, but it felt makeshift.  Tomorrow, however, the tent of meeting will look a bit more liturgically proper, with an altar area more like a sanctuary.  It will be a raised dais with a semi-circular step-up in front and plenty of room for the ministers of the Eucharist. The roof is now supported by metal beams, all painted white, the entry is tiled. It looks, well, more churchy, but still a work in progress.

I've been thinking of the rebuilding effort. All over Port au Prince there are reconstruction projects that are slowly taking form, although still there is little to show for the work. Many of the tents are gone and the people resettled in other more permanent housing. The Champs du Mars (a major city center) with its monuments and statues is returned to normal use as  a park. But the Presidential Palace is still fallen down, unreconstructed. Schools and other civic structures are still pretty temporary. But life is going on.

The Cathedral is what it is.  One day there will be a new Cathedral, but the longer the "Tent of Meeting" is more like a tent and less like an English Cathedral set in Haiti with grand paintings and cathedral bells, and more like a place grounded in the reality of life in Haiti - where open (that is to say no) walls lets breeze in and voices out - the more I think slow is just fine.

Yes, a new cathedral is in the making. I hope it is raised soon, and with it the hopes of the Church in Haiti to keep on walking. But now is the walking time, and the people of the Church in Haiti are walking, rather running, to their future.  Perhaps this time their future does not copy English and American architecture. Perhaps this time there is the memory that the Tent of Meeting in Haiti is a meeting under the great tree that shelters and protects, but is free and without the constraints of old masters. 

The same can be said of the Roman Catholic Cathedral, whose ruins remind us that what was broken was itself an import from distant lands, whose people did not look kindly on imported slaves.  I see those ruins and hope that what they raise up will be for the first time truly Haitian as well.

What that will look like I do not know. But I do know that tomorrow we will be in a fine cathedral, one build not with the hands of strangers, and conforming to the world's standards for cathedral construction, but build by Haitians for worship and praise, if only for the day and hour in which we find ourselves tomorrow.

Pray for the Church in Haiti and for the bishops and people.

4 comments:

  1. "Perhaps this time their future does not copy English and American architecture. Perhaps this time there is the memory that the Tent of Meeting in Haiti is a meeting under the great tree that shelters and protects, but is free and without the constraints of old masters."

    amen to that!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Prayers for the church in Haiti.

    Sister Sarah has pictures of the preparations for the consecration at the temporary cathedral.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Prayers for Haiti and for her future...a land where every possibility of passionate good energy exists...one step at a time in time.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good to hear you again. Be assured of my continued prayers for Haiti, may she one day soon be free.

    ReplyDelete

OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.