Over the past few weeks, as images from Haiti have flooded the media, we at the monastery have dug into our pocket for the relief effort, have daily remembered the suffering in our prayer, and have kept up a steady stream of conversation about the devastated nation. The other day our conversation came around once again to Haiti. One Sister expressed what we all feel: “What else can I do when I can’t be there? I don’t want to live in a bubble.”
Is the monastery a bubble? The answer is a definite “no.” But it can sometimes feel that way when the need is great and our ability to respond is limited. We feel the distance keenly.
But is it really distant? I think not. While our distance from a particular situation might be great, our distance from suffering is never far. The country of suffering is everywhere – on vast scales such as that of Haiti, and on smaller scales such as a neighbor in need.
Our particular call as a monastic community keeps us rooted in our local area, attentive to the needs and the suffering around us. Some of us have served for brief terms in other lands of great need – including Haiti – and perhaps some of us may again. But for now, we watch, listen, read, pray, lament, and give…and feel deeply our kinship with those who suffer.
Perhaps we are in a bubble, but it is not the bubble of the monastery. It is the sphere of God’s creation, the enclosure of God’s hand, our oneness in the Body of Christ…. As St. Paul tells us in I Corinthians, ”if one parts suffers, all the parts suffer with it.”