Monday 27 January 2014

after the earthquake, wind, and fire

For a moment the sun pauses on its arc across the sky; the heat is still searing but there's an imaginary pause all the same. The leaves, like palms outstretched in the light, listen too.  Clouds, continents in oceans of enamel blue - grand and morphing inventively, shifting shapes of symmetry - slows to still.  All these speak of His greatness.  There is Spirit.  Not one entity but a Spirit complicit in all.  The tiniest to the greatest.  A greatness pervading the least likely, the least expected, the least deserving.  A tiny germ vital to the greatest construct. A still, small voice of calm . .

We must be at the mid-way point now, half way through the trip - at least in terms of days.  Though productivity is not a constant; and we will achieve more as our departure nears.  The milestones of time I have plotted out are the 1st of the month (this coming Saturday - pretty random but feels significant), the tenth (around the time the container arrives at PAP from Miami), then, say, the 20th that gives time for potential haggling at the port to get the thing through with as little aggravation, and with the lowest costs, as possible.  Then on the 24th we take a bus to the Dominican Republic with, hopefully, every loose end tied and every challenge resolved as fairly as possible.  I have to say, I am looking forward to reaching this point: when we've resolved all, or most, of the objectives and can leave with a small bag of essentials and make our way home.

Right now I feel uneasy about the length of time we are grazing here - almost three weeks so far, and although it still feels like paradise, there's a kind of conditional joy attached to these comforts, that linger amidst the well-being and contentment, but they are my own imagined issues, I'm sure . . taking so much from the sisters causes me some guilt, its a kind of repressed state of being that lingers in the background - I want to give to them (and although we have determined between us to make a significant contribution to some of their projects) - their giving, and in abundance, is quite magnificent . . . and we're 'taking' it all: their privacy, their food and sharing in their community whilst they give it all freely I feel somehow in the way.  Of course, I realise that these concerns are self-made and we are helping the children in their care.  But I don't see that as any justification, but they give as freely as we are giving, admittedly, and this makes it an acceptable collaboration, I suppose.  There's an unhurried pace to life in the convent and the nuns are so kind and welcoming.  We are with them for three meals a day - unless we are out on the road - which from the start I have been trying to ease back from because I was worried it might be too much for them.  And yet I can see it must be my awkwardness in receiving so much kindness from relative strangers.  I have spoke to some of the nuns, and Gisele, in particular, and she is adamant that we are no trouble and that in fact the sisters feel we are the ones giving.  One couldn't buy this experience and we have got to know all the nuns that live in the guest house, about a dozen sisters.  And much to my shame, and to make matters worse in a way, we haven't been all that specific about when we are leaving.  The head sister has been unbelievably generous insisting we stay as long as we like.  And granted, she knows that the container has suffered from delays in getting here - and that originally our departure date was the 29th of January.  So there we are!

We retire early at night and we make as little disruption as possible and try to relax and enjoy the gift that the sisters are giving us so freely.  Darren and I were painting rocks today with one of the sisters . . honestly, it feels more like convalescence than any form of work.  But we accept it when things are slow and we try to be patient while we wait for things to arrive or take shape.  Sister Gisele is a delight - she painted a beautiful palm tree on the face of a smooth pebble.  We had something else planned for the first half of the day but things changed at the last moment.

At night - particularly those close to the weekend - there's loud music coming from the main road.  A loud DJ, music and bottles clashing.  It's hard sometimes to sleep with the sweltering heat, the hard ground, the competing animals barking and calling together with the mesmeric chorus of grasshoppers . . but one does block-out that nocturnal cacophony in-time as fatigue envelops the din and one soon wallows asleep.