Thursday, January 20, 2011


Life in Haiti is far from being back to normal. There are still tent cities everywhere you look, though there have been buyouts going on recently, where people are given a sum of cash to leave the tent city. There are still destroyed buildings, some of which look as though nothing at all has been done to them since January 12th.

And yet, there seems to be a new normal, the new normal everyone was talking to me about this time last year. They said that Haiti would find it, and that so would I.

Haiti's new normal isn't acceptable. People can't continue to live this way indefinitely, and yet that is exactly what I fear will happen.

But in my own life, I am definitely starting to see a new normal. I commented to a friend yesterday that I am getting annoyed with my students again, and that in a strange sort of way, this feels like progress. I'm getting back to normal.

Of course, getting back to normal is both a good thing and a bad thing. It's a good thing because nobody can live forever on the kind of intensity that I've been experiencing to varying degrees since January 12th, 2010. The deep pain, grief, and loss were devastating, and the deep love, joy, and gratitude were wonderful, but at both extremes, the strong emotions were exhausting. A couple of times I used the image of a sunburn - that's how it felt, that extra sensitivity to everything because your skin is burned.

And, of course, it's a bad thing - this getting back to normal - because I don't ever want to forget completely the huge appreciation for everyone and everything that I have experienced since the earthquake, the intense awareness of pain and suffering around me, the deepened love for the people God has put in my life. I want my new normal to include the lessons that the earthquake taught me, that life can be gone in a second, that we should let others know what they mean to us every chance we get, that God is very near.

Ordinary. I longed for it last winter. I appreciate it still. But it has to be a new normal. I can't ever forget that the earth can move, that life is heart-breakingly precious, that people are there to be loved.

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