Looking forward, looking back; the gap is narrowing and I am getting closer to being in the moment without the burdens of what and when and why.
However, two weeks ago I left my little, honest market town of Otley embarking on the final stages of this complicated and protracted endeavour. The idea was born on my last visit but has been achieved by the cooperation of hundreds of people who shared the responsibility of these aims: to assist the people of Haiti with a few material goods to help them in their time of serious need.
Beds, play equipment, shoes and clothes, food, tools, computers and phones. Some items inspired more giving than others. Laptops are interesting, for example. I have seen with certainty that the youngsters need them - like phones - but our perceptions of poverty make clothes and shoes and food more important than computers - but I know the kids need them like MP3s and smart phones - but we question this need. One lovely old sister here endorsed shoes as her particular plea. These do capture peoples sense of a very legitimate need - how can they lack something we all take so much for granted! . . . and I immediately wanted to bring these from home more than anything, though we didn't raise nearly as many as I was desperate for.
Giving at this end is quite hazardous as I have mentioned. Adults are sometimes insulted or undermined by too much free help. They can feel stubbornly embarrassed by handouts preferring the independence of self-determination by their own merit . . . It's quite reasonable, the ego is made up of a complex package of self-worth, knowledge of weaknesses and strengths. Also, measures of justice and merit, righteousness and altruism. The ego drives personal ambition and sacrifice. And possibly in an inconsistent way but hopefully evolving for the better of others in time and with wisdom.
And so the endeavour has been made possible on so many levels by so many willing to share the goals without personal gain or self-interest. My own involvement was exposed and apparent, whereas many gave and sacrificed for the success of the project quietly and discretely. A few resolved issues of great importance. And many made small sacrifices that were vital too for the overall success. Resulting in a 'whole' that is greater than the sum of its parts. Team work has many fruits and many constraints but again the outcome is far better as a consequence of a joint effort with each offering unique strengths. Interestingly, there always seemed to be some gravitational pull preventing us from succeeding. Was this the enemy? The final hurdle might be getting the container through customs - I've heard it can take up to a year in the worst cases. I felt a huge release when we arrived in the grounds of this convent - it felt like suddenly the great resistance that had been pulling on us for two years was broken. The long journey of team work requires so many compromises, concessions and flexibility to hold it together for the overall mission. Knowing when to yield and when to intervene is a fragile occupation too. The tireless efforts of others can be overlooked or taken for granted. Some have just a little to offer - some carry the success of the project in one finite act that only they can give. Building on these successes, learning from the set-backs and triumphs graciously - selflessly, and all importantly, keeping in mind the help we want to give others less fortunate than ourselves. Each stage of life's journey contributes to the next. Disparate concerns running through your life - whether they are many or few - are still made up of stages, improving in time one's sense of caring more for others than for ourselves.