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Day #17 - Spiritual
According to www.definitionofwellness.com, "The spiritual dimension of wellness involves seeking meaning and purpose in human existence. It includes the development of a deep appreciation for the depth and expanse of life and natural forces that exist in the universe."
It's uncanny sometimes how God, Allah, the universe simply drops into your lap exactly what you need. That's exactly what happened to me today when I went to find something which will bring me more spiritual wellness.
As I have said before, most of the time my problem with organized religion is those fallable humans who "organize it" and the hypocracy with which they pepper their lives. For me, Pat Robertson is most certainly one of those brick walls I encounter on my walk with God.
Today as I perused my Facebook account, I ran across this open letter to God written by a friend of mine who happens to be the pastor of the church that I attend. I ask you to read it and think about how one can call themselves a Christian and say the things that Pat Robertson has said. I think my Pastor friend said it perfectly:
An Open Letter to God
Today, one of your spokespersons, the Rev. Pat Robertson explained the reason for the devastating earthquake in Haiti. He indicated that you were angry with the people of that small island. According to Rev. Robertson, the Haitian people, made “a pact with the devil” to gain their independence, which, by the way, took place more than 200 years ago. While history bears out that the people of Haiti did rebel against French colonization, they did so because of the slavery that was a part of that rule. There was a long history of rebellion by the Haitians beginning with a prominent struggle that began in 1791. The colonizing forces were much better armed and an estimated 100,000 Haitians were killed during this struggle. Slavery would continue under French rule, but yellow fever would hamper the French forces. With increasing struggles close at home, Napoleon began to retreat from the Western Hemisphere. At the same time this was happening, the French were selling a little piece of property called “the Louisiana Purchase.” The French retreat enabled the island nation of Haiti to declare its independence on January 1, 1804.
But the Haitian people were gracious in their victory. While they could have evicted the foreign interlopers, instead they offered reparations to French slaveholders. Can you believe that? They offered to pay those who had enslaved them so that the former slave holders would be compensated for their loss! Although they had gained independence, they felt sorry for those who had suffered as a result of their victory. In 1838 they paid 60 million francs to make up for the losses and to receive official recognition of their independence. This was a substantial amount of money for a new country and historians suggest that this act so deeply affected their economy that the country was never able to overcome this.
History would seem to indicate that this uprising was a responseto slavery, something that I have always believed that you, O God, are opposed to. History also indicates that the uprising was the result of the oppression felt by this small country. My reading of the scriptures suggests that this is something that you oppose as well. But, I have not come across any documentation about any “pact with the devil.”
It has been about 20 years since I visited Haiti. But, my experience led me to admire their faith. There were people like Father Bohnen who in his 80’s established schools in the poorest slums of Port au Prince. He was a good man of faith and I admired him deeply. Along with tending to their spiritual needs, he educated the people and gave them a chance to escape the vicious cycle of poverty. And there was Sister Claire, a nun living in Cap Hatien. That tenacious, little nun stood up to countless roadblocks to build safe housing for people. I still remember the United Methodist pastor in the rural community who rode his bicycle from church to church. He constructed a pond that would become a place to breed tilapia, what he called “the miracle fish.” With great pride he stood alongside this pond commenting that he wanted to be able to feed the people spiritually and physically. I could name several others who have labored by faith. There was the orphanage in Petionville and Grace Children’s Hospital in Port au Prince. There were the pastors and priests and nuns with whom I worked and worshipped. I found the people of Haiti to be deeply religious and an inspiration to me.
And that is why I write this open letter to you, O God. Rev. Robertson says that you are punishing the people for having made “a pact with the devil.” History has no record of any such bargain and Rev. Robertson doesn’t cite his sources. But, assuming that Rev. Robertson is correct, I want to offer this humble advice to you, O God. Let it go. Really. I mean, get over it. I know the scriptures say that you have a long memory. But it is time to let it go. Stop punishing the people. Don’t you think it is enough? You have now become a vindictive bully and it is very unbecoming of a Deity. Am I to believe that you did not hear the cries of the mother who watched her child die of malnutrition? Am I to believe that you did not hear the prayers of the people who asked for an end to the suffering? Am I to believe that you do not hear the cries of the child who has lost his parents, or the prayers of the person sifting through the rubble searching for a loved one who has disappeared? Did you ignore all this because you have been holding a grudge for more than 200 years! Are you not moved by the tears of the suffering? Has it not been enough to appease your thirst? To the God of Pat Robertson, I beg you, let it go.
However, to the Creator of the Universe, the Lover of us all, the God who weeps for the people of Haiti, I pray that you would open the hearts of your people. Move us beyond the need to try to find simplistic answers that only serve to diminish the faithfulness of our neighbor. Instead, strengthen our faith that we might reach out with love and generosity to those who are suffering in this tragedy. And together with you, help us to ease the suffering, mend the brokenness and comfort those who mourn.
Because I believe you are a God of love, this is my prayer in this time of sorrow and tragedy. But, if you need to exercise a bit of vindictiveness, there is someone I wish you would afflict with a case of muteness. This is not the first time he has spewed reprehensible and unsubstantiated theological garbage in a time of tragedy, but it needs to stop. Really.