Titanyen. Sacred Ground. A Call for a Haitian National Memorial
It is virtually impossible to predict the path that one’s life will take. This realization rattled through my soul recently, as I knelt in a desolate field outside of Titanyen, Haiti and took stock of my surroundings.
At my back, just across a fractured road connecting Port-Au-Prince to nowhere, a million dollar view of the Caribbean awaited my gaze, if I was so inclined (which I was not). At my feet, black and white palm-sized stones dotted the hardscrabble landscape for as far as the eye could see — or, at least as far as I could see through tear-filled eyes. And though their benign appearance has succeeded in shrouding the horrors of this place, I saw these stones for what they really were — as wardens and unmarked tombstones for countless dead Haitians interned below in a mass grave.
It’s been over a month since I journeyed to the edge of humanity and to my own existence. And while my passport declares that I have returned home, in truth, pieces of me remain in Haiti. I am OK with this reality for there is always a price to be paid when confronting an injustice such as this mass grave. Yet, least anyone feel that this relationship is inequitable, all should understand that Haiti does not take from me. To the contrary, Haiti gives to me in ways that do not meet the casual eye.
An example of this benevolence can be found on top of my office desk. Here, right next to the computer I am using to write this post, sit two stones. One is black; the other is white. As I knelt and cried at Titanyen, these stones filled-full my trembling hands. They were Haiti’s gift to me, and I find comfort and resolve in their presence.
One Purpose – A Haitian National Memorial
… It may be virtually impossible to predict the path that one’s life will take, but it is not impossible. I have charted a new course for my life, and many unexpected destinations have been circled on my map. One such destination is the mass grave/landfill just outside of Titanyen. Here, in a once angry and desolate field, I envision a Haitian National Memorial. I further envision a day when thousands of Haitians will stand side by side, united in their belief that life and death are both sacred events.
God willing, I will be there as their silent prayers give way to whispers, and whispers give way to conversation. In their celebration, I will quietly take my leave. There will be no goodbyes, only the sound of two stones, one black and the other white, as the fall from my hand to a ground made soft from tears of joy and the love of a stranger.
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