It has been a few weeks since I’ve posted a blog. For many years I’ve posted a reflection every three days. More than that, I felt, would be too intrusive on your time, as well as too much work for me. As many of you probably know, in May of 2015, my wife and I traveled to Haiti with the idea looking for a way to serve unschooled streets kids in Port-au-Prince. My wife, who is an artist, was born in Haiti. We met in the aftermath of the earthquake in 2010, which left her homeless. I was in Haiti filming. It took a year to get her out of Haiti. While she loved her new life in California, her heart burned for the children locked in a prison of severe poverty, enduring hunger and abuse. We made seven trips to Haiti in 2015, living in a slum. Before we knew it, our little place was being overwhelmed with kids in dire need. In December of 2015 we moved into a walled compound containing a small building that serves a school. We also have a small two-room apartment where we live while in room. Our center is called the Santa Chiara Children’s Center. We care for about 50 kids a day, offering them three meals a day, a basic education, art & craft classes…and lots of love. Most of the kids live in the surrounding slums where they have no running water. We also have a dozen kids who actually live at the Center. I spend 50% of my time in Haiti, and my wife is in Haiti 80% of the time. We spend a lot of time flying back and forth. During these last three weeks that I’ve been home I’ve consumed with finishing a new film on our Center. Plus doing lots of begging to keep out Haitian outreach afloat. There simply are not enough hours in day…and so I’ve let the blog slide. I will be in Haiti until the end of June. When I return I hope to resume the blog…but for now the blog will be on a short hiatus. I send about 85 people daily journal updates while I’m in Haiti. I send them as a PDF file via e-mail. They contain stories of the kids, our struggles living there, and some photos. If you wish to be added to the distribution list please let me know by e-mailing at Straubgt@aol.com
Archive Page 2
A Quantum Leap of Faith
In a surprising twist, science, especially quantum physics, is expanding faith in the Trinity as it shows us that relationships are all there is in the universe. I confess to having a hard time understanding the quantum theory in physics. But the quantum principle of a complementarity that tolerates ambiguity, approximation, probability, and paradox greatly appeals to me. Inflexible certitudes turn me off and worries me.
The Divine Flow of Life
Any religion that has been reduced to mere performance of certain rituals, affirming certain “truths,” adhering to certain moral principles, and being part of a special group is useless. Religion is about participation not merely following. Authentic religion helps the believer to fully enter into to the divine flow of life, which for Christians means actively participating in the mystery of the Trinity. Christianity is more than going to church on Sunday and trying to be good the rest of the week. Christ calls us to something much deeper.
A Loving Embrace
If you have the Trinity figured out, you have accomplished the impossible. The Triune God is a dynamic…a dynamic love relationship, changing, growing deepening. The Trinity doesn’t simply live in unchanging truths; the Trinity lives in a loving embrace of creation.
Three Thoughts on the Trinity
Heaven is not a place; it is a state of being…state of being fully in tune with the Trinity.
The delight of the Trinity is to pour itself out into Oneness.
Prayer is the Trinity praying in us.
I once walked among the stars of Hollywood. I now walk among the poor of the world. As I traveled down poverty road I saw firsthand how on the margins of society, hidden far from our sight, countless people live in agony and die in despair. In these countless prisons of chronic poverty, endless misery is an everyday reality. Since 1999, I’ve seen unimaginable suffering and witnessed kids with bloated bellies dying from hunger and treatable diseases. Before I began this journey with the poor, I had lived a life of relative comfort, security, and success. I didn’t even know any poor people.
Images from my time in Haiti immediately after the deadly earthquake in January 2010 still haunt me…the decaying foot of a little boy sticking out of the rubble of a collapsed grammar school, the charred skeletal remains of a man who was trapped in the entrance of a collapsed hotel which caught fire, a woman having the open, bleeding wounds of her amputated leg being treated by a team of Korean doctors, corpses that were lined up behind the hospital that had been eaten away by wild dogs. It was a non-stop nightmare.
As I traveled down poverty road, I was shocked by the unimaginable levels of overwhelming poverty endured by most of the people throughout the world. I had no idea that about eleven million kids under the age of five die every year from hunger and preventable diseases. A single child dying of hunger – hunger for food and hunger for love – is a tragedy; millions of innocent children dying from hunger is a sin of monstrous proportions, an unfathomable and unspeakable disaster. These children are crying out to us; sadly, we choose not to hear them, not to feed them, not to love them.
Due to unjust structures, a quarter of humanity lives on the edge, struggling to survive. Already excluded from the benefits of economic and technological development, the poor are victims of resource wars, climate change, and failing states. More than 15 million of them are refugees, and over 25 million have been internally displaced in their own countries. To make my film We Anoint Their Wounds, featuring the heroic work of Jesuit Refugee Service, I filmed in the massive Kibera slum in Nairobi, the largest and worst slum in all of Africa, as well as in the main garbage dump in the city, where hundreds upon hundreds of people, including numerous woman and children, shift through the rotting waste looking for anything they can recycle for a few pennies. I also filmed in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya, which is surrounded by endless miles of harsh desert and is occupied by 100,000 refugees squeezed together under the blazing African sun. Having seen the horror of these places, I can’t forget them…nor can I forget the faces of the vulnerable people I saw and photographed.
God took on human form as a vulnerable baby, the child of homeless refugees, needing human help in the ongoing work of creation. We are called to be God’s messengers, delivering food and hope to those living with hunger and death on what Pope Francis calls the “existential peripheries” of our time. But beyond dispensing physical and spiritual food we are also called to empower the poor with the practical means to become fully participating members of society.
Justice requires that people have a place to sleep, enough food to eat, and work that makes them feel worthwhile. It is not enough to be for the poor, to stand with them. We must also be against their poverty, a poverty created by injustice and selfishness. After years of deadly civil war, the fleeing Syrian refugees are flooding into Europe where resistance to them is rising. In America, talk of banning Muslim refugees is becoming louder and more insistent. The refugee’s life is a life of prolonged struggles…a struggle for survival, a struggle for dignity, a struggle for liberty, a struggle for equality. The Gospel compels us to share in their struggles, to share in their liberation. This has been my sole message for the last dozen years…and few want to hear it.
Perhaps the time is drawing nigh for me to stop walking among the poor and to begin living among the poor in Haiti.
Spirituality is not other-worldly;
it is found in our relationships,
work, attitudes, illness and dreams.
Simply put, spirituality is rooted in
ordinary emotional, physical and mental life.
The difficulty lies in achieving
the concentrated attention needed
to observe what is going on,
moment by moment,
in ourselves and around us,
to uncover that spiritual dimension.
Spiritual growth hinges on our ability to see
the divine woven into mundane human reality…
a feat which will take a lifetime.
God humbly came to the earth He created.
The Cross is a symbol
of God’s humility,
poverty and love.
God’s love lacks nothing
and nothing is held back.
It is God’s nature not to be self-contained.
God wants to share.
God is relational by nature.
Goodness and being are wedded in God.
God is not static;
God is dynamic.
God does not stay
within the lines.
Prayer slows down the frenzied pace of life.
Prayer prompts us to reach out in compassion
to the suffering and weak,
and helps us embrace all of humanity.
Prayer is the sunrise of the soul.