I couldn't sleep last night.
It happens sometimes. And when I can't sleep, my normally pragmatic mind runs to some otherworldly weird and violent scenarios - like my children being hit by cars or a bear attacking them in the yard while they're doing their chores - that make my actually falling asleep even less of a possibility. Last night, I couldn't stop creating scenarios involving the death or grave injury of my youngest son, Willoughby.
It's a strange state to be in. Not asleep. Not awake. And not entirely in control of my thought processes. But in the middle of one of these horrible visions, Willoughby, who sleeps with us, rolled over, putting his feet against my belly and throwing out his arm straight across my face. A gentle rebuke, I guess, but an effective one. It woke me up enough to remember not to fear the millions of horrific possibilities the world has to offer, that will probably never happen and certainly couldn't be prevented due to their randomness and sheer improbability.
I removed his hand from my face, causing him to shift his position again, lining his back up against me so I could feel his every breath.
And this is how I eventually dropped off to sleep, his every breath reminding me he was there and safe and I had nothing to fear.
Now imagine our house falling down and my sweet-cheeked, breathing consolation Willoughby stuck under it and me running back and forth helplessly there trying, desperately to get him out.
Which is rather like what is happening in Haiti.
Where for many mothers, day-to-day survival is more of an actual battle than it is here. You know, my pantry is rarely bare. I mean, there's always something. Even when we are at our lowest moments financially, I can't think of a time we've actually been out of food. Maybe we don't have exactly what we want...or maybe I can't make what I usually do, but we've never gone to be hungry due to an empty cupboard.
In Haiti, mothers don't love their children any less than I love mine. And I can hardly bear to think of the desperation, the horror, the helplessness swirling about in the air there today. What can you do when the ground gives up and quivers all around you? You can't hold anyone close enough. You can't protect your kids from that. As hard as you work. As rich or poor as you may be. It's a great leveler, in more ways than one.
One of the things I love the most about Christianity is the idea that regardless of our individual circumstances, I am no more or less in God's eyes than anyone else. So my children, though they mean the world to me, are no more valuable than any other children on the planet. I have taught them this from very early on. Before the Jesus-Me. It's fundamental, isn't it? Not to bring everyone else up to our level, but more to bring us down a few notches.
Many is the time, I've looked around me and felt a little smug. I take good care of my family. We have a comfortable house we're not in danger of losing, largely because of my insistence, initiative and creativity. My marriage is loving, stable and secure. There are moments when I am dangerously close to falling into the trap of thinking myself somehow "better" than someone else who does not share my good fortune.
But how different am I than the alcoholic when I eat more than I should, to the detriment of my health? Not to mention my kids who may not have a mother drunk off her ass on the sofa, but still have one who spends way too much time there.
How different am I than the person with thousands of dollars in credit card debt when I spend too much at second-hand stores? Both of us are spending money we don't have, just in different venues. And both of our families are suffering from it.
How different am I than the mother who does everything she can for her children - feeding, clothing, sheltering her kids the best she can in whatever environment she was born into? I'm not different at all. We're exactly the same. We're all the same. Me and you and people half the world away. We're all the same, one for the other.
National and cultural boundaries, they are all man-made. Even religious boundaries, they're bunk too. If my children were buried under the rubble of our home, I wouldn't care who the rescuer prayed to. Neither would you. And we live in a world where oceans of water no longer profoundly impede us. Mountain ranges, either. And my brothers and sisters in Christ, they are crying. Especially in Haiti today.
And since we're no different, don't we have a responsibility to help them, like we'd help any other neighbor? Because I'm pretty sure they'd help us, regardless of our skin color, our country of origin, our financial status.
NPR has set up a page telling us how. Please go and consider making a donation. Because unless you're chartering a hospital boat full of food, water, and heavy equipment, it's the least you could do.