February 23rd, 2013
Thin Places in the Dirt
May, 2002. Duriamba, Nicaragua. My student and I, six feet under, working on a Habitat for Humanity Build Team. We spent our week digging a six- foot hole, using shovels and primitive tools to break the rock-hard ground for a septic tank. The hot wind blew dirt, which stuck to our sun screen, making us dark as the earth itself.
“If, we don’t get this done,” she said, “they won’t have running water. Let’s sing to fire up.”
We dug on, singing hymns, bible camp songs and scraping with plastic tubs as we reached the six foot mark. Finally done.
Jan., 2010, Port au Prince, Haiti. My former Habitat digging partner and new husband, now seminary students, spent days helping at orphanages as part of their education. One day, the earth moved. Quake. They ran from the building. She turned; her husband didn’t follow. The stone ceiling had collapsed and the walls caved and buried him. She dug at the earth and rock with bare hands. No one could reach him. But they heard him. Singing hymns and camp songs until his last breath beneath the crumpled earth.
The Haitian people carried them through their darkest times and worked nonstop for three days with sledgehammers and shovels to free his body.
Faith, hope, love – buried in dark thin places beneath the earth. – Merrie Sue Holtan