A package in the mail prompts such anticipation! Yesterday’s delivery unexpectedly brought us a small white bubble envelope from Hands Together, an aid organization in Haiti to which we’ve contributed for many years. I first responded to their appeal on a mission Sunday back in 1998. The founder, Fr. Tom Hagen, spoke at all our parish masses that day, and I was moved especially by his vivid account of children’s deprivation. My check then put us on their mailing list, and the letter the following year sealed our dedication to their work with two short sentences near the bottom: “We appreciate anything you can do to help us. This is the only solicitation we will send this year.” Paradoxically, they are not constantly reminding us of their needs, but I think of them readily, especially after the tragic 2010 earthquake in which they suffered significant loss.
Yesterday’s package contained a CD called A Symphony of Hope: The Haiti Project. A collaboration by 25 leading composers as a fundraiser, all participants donated their services, and all proceeds go to Hands Together. I have been listening to it this afternoon, and the five movements that progress through devastation to rebuilding to hope are truly beautiful, majestically orchestral but grounded in a folk theme. It seems so fitting to me for December 28, the feast of the Holy Innocents recalling Herod’s massacre of young boys which led to the Holy Family becoming refugees in Egypt. When we are prone to sentimentalizing the manger, this day points us to the cross. Likewise the Symphony of Hope invites solidarity with the Haitian people in their continuing hardships even as it strives to alleviate them.