There is a great and somewhat ironic convergence happening in our calendars. In the midst of the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 13, 2010, the Church celebrated National Migration Week (January 3-9), starting on the Feast of the Epiphany, a week when it focused on the situation of migrants and refugees. The Church also celebrated Vocations Awareness Week (January 10-16), starting with the Baptism of the Lord, as it reminded all the faithful of its call to holiness expressed in lay, religious, and ordained life. And next week, the Church marks the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25), ending with the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. The theme of this year’s week of prayer is “You Are Witnesses of These Things,” from Luke 24:48. And finally, January 15 is the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose holiday the United States marks this Monday.
What does the crossing of all these “memorials” mean? What are we being witnesses to these full days?
I don’t know that I have an answer to that. But all these events give me so much to reflect on, and the juxtapositions of the annual celebrations draw new light on what is happening in our world today. In Haiti, we witness a nightmare. I still can’t not be moved to tears whenever I watch the news or listen to another report. Yet in the streets of Haiti, there is hope and faith and even joy. They dance and sing even as they weep. They rejoice at the rescue of one even as so many dead line the streets.
A man, whose leg was pinned down under a fallen wall for two days, was given a microphone by the news crew filming his rescue. As people chiseled stone away from his leg and used blowtorches to cut metal, the man spoke of his faith in God. “I am a Christian,” he said, “so I say, ‘Jesus, my life is in your hands.'”
Not knowing his fate, this man relied on the promise of Christ. Amid the nightmare in Haiti, he dreamed the vision of the Spirit: Isaiah’s vision of peoples of every race and nation coming together to Jerusalem, the vision of a dove and a voice descending from heaven upon God’s beloved, the vision of healing amid division and hope for the outcast and persecuted.
We, Christians, are dreamers, dancing and weeping all at the same time, for although we find suffering on earth, we are citizens of a new heaven and a new earth. Yet our dreams are not fanciful thoughts of a world far away. Our dreams are made real every Sunday, at the table of Word and Eucharist. This is our faith. This is what we witness in Haiti. We are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
A Prayer for Dreamers
January 18, 2010, is the national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is also the 16th annual King Day of Service, instituted by the U.S. Congress as a day of volunteer service, turning community concerns into citizen action.
God of our waking and our sleeping,
in every age,
you have spoken to your prophets
in dreams and visions
and have promised that
our sons and daughters shall prophesy
through your Spirit.
Through the dreams of young Joseph,
you saved your people from famine.
In the visions of King Solomon,
you blessed your land with wisdom.
Because of dreams,
aged Joseph acted quickly
to protect your only Son from harm.
And through the revelation announced to Mary,
you brought forth a new King and a new dream
for all the world to witness.
Bless those who continue to seek you in dreams.
Open their ears to hear you in their visions,
loosen their tongues to speak your word,
strengthen their hands to respond swiftly in action,
and embolden their hearts that what they hear in the dark
they may proclaim in the light.
Make us all dreamers who tirelessly pursue
the vision of your Kingdom.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Copyright © 2009, Diana Macalintal. This prayer originally appeared in Today’s Parish, January-February 2009, 42:1.