Sherri Gragg

Juggler of words and children…collector of pottery shards

Pick Up Your Sword: An Afternoon in Haiti

The baby lay napping fitfully in the middle of the full size bed clothed only in her diaper in an effort to stay cool in the suffocating afternoon heat.  The windows were open but no breeze stirred.  The air was thick and still.  Occasionally, she began to rock vigorously side to side in her sleep and I would stop whatever else I was doing and go to her, gently laying my hand on her bare back.  Comfort.  She lay still for a time and then would begin to rock again.  I returned to her each time and repeated the cycle over and over again. 

Her sister lay in bed beside her.  She was an angry, heartbroken little girl who had lost too much and waited too long to accept me with open arms.  I did what I could to comfort her but the intricacies of the grief, sorrow and confusion in her heart were beyond my reach, so she lay quietly crying herself to sleep. 

I sighed deeply and picked up my Bible, journal, and pen, then sank to the hard tile floor, resting my back against the wall.  I opened the journal and stared at the clean, white pages before me.  The journal was new, purchased especially for the trip when I would meet my daughters for the first time.  I had bought it with such hope that words of joy and fulfillment would cover the pages.  The journals of the two years previously had been volumes of grief and longing; the struggle to hold on to faith when all evidence of the physical realm seemed to speak to the contrary. 

But this journal was to be different.  I was at last to go to Haiti and hold my long awaited daughters in my arms.  Instead, I found the two year wait for their family had been an eternity in their short lives and to accept me as their mother was simply more than they could manage. 

I picked up my Bible and began leafing through the pages searching for the scripture I had in mind.  I found it, picked up my pen and began to copy it on the blank page before me. 

Copying Scripture was a method of comfort I had discovered during the two year wait for my daughters.  When my heart was overwhelmed with grief to the point I could not find words to release it, I would copy Scripture.  Some days, the Word of God provided enough relief that I was then able to fill page after page with my thoughts, feelings, prayers, and insights.  Other days, the blanket of grief was so heavy upon my soul that the scripture was the only entry for the day.  On those days, I rested in the comfort of God’s presence.  Now, once again, I found my soul bound my sorrow and I picked up my pen and began to copy the words before me.

“He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe all away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.  And it will be said in that day:  “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us.  This is the Lord…..We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”  Isaiah 25:8-9

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Hebrews 11:1

Hope and faith stirred within me.  It was a defiant faith born of the Spirit of God and breathed into my soul.  It was the kind of God given faith that stares into the grim reality before it, sets its jaw and says, “I still believe.”  I turned the pages of my Bible and began to copy another scripture.

“This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  1 John 4:10

The scripture unlocked my heart and I began to write:

“I am struggling with whether or not I should even be here.  Will this adoption ever hold anything for me but sorrow?”

I continued on, page after page, pouring out my grief to The Comforter.

“They want nothing to do with me…It is not my fault, but they are small and cannot understand…There is something wrong with the birth certificates and we are no closer to the passports….The baby is sick…..”

“God, please help me.  I will take any help you give.”

God led me to another Scripture and I began to copy again.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted amoung the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth.  The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”  Psalm 46:1-3, 10 & 11

I began to pray, pouring out my soul to God.  As I prayed with increased fervency, I could no longer sit still and lay aside my journal and began to pace the floor.  I prayed.  My daughters slept.  The Haitian afternoon drug on, and although the shadows began to creep along the wall, the heat did not lessen.  Finally, when all words were spent and my heart was lighter, my daughters bean to stir.  I turned to greet Claduine, who was sitting sleepily on the bed with one of the few phrases I had mastered in Creole.

“Bon swa, cheri.”  (Good afternoon, sweetie.)

She returned my gaze with a look of disgust and then looked away.  I reached out to place my hand on her head and at my touch she squirmed away and went into the bathroom without a word.  By this time, her younger sister sat on the bed rocking back and forth.  When I turned to her, she raised her arms to me but there was no sense of affection there or even trust and it occured to me that she sought me only because I was better than no comfort at all.

I drew her into my arms and buried my face in her hair.
 

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2 comments on “Pick Up Your Sword: An Afternoon in Haiti

  1. mama2roo
    March 7, 2007

    Sherri-
    How long have your babies been with you now? It must be painful to look back at those moments, but surely, without those moments you could not have things be the way they are now…

  2. everydaymiracle
    March 7, 2007

    Mama2Roo:

    My daughters came home 1 year ago, last December 16th. It has been difficult to go “back into the wilderness” but to my surprise, good for me as well. I have to restrain myself from butting into my narrative to give away the joyful ending. I find myself worried about my readers that they will become depressed!

    Blessings today!

    Sherri

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This entry was posted on March 7, 2007 by in adoption, Christianity, motherhood, parenting.
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