In this season of change and uncertainty — when we face the fragile structures of our own lives — we can listen for the "still, small voice" and be mindful of our small, daily opportunities to make a world of difference.
According to Jewish mystical tradition, the Book of Life is not yet sealed — or alternatively, it is sealed but not yet delivered, as the season of teshuvah (re/turning, repentance) continues through the end of this festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles). The ancient sage Rabbi Eliezer goes further in declaring that the best day for teshuvah is "one day before your death" — in other words, every day of our lives.
It's easy to forget this when we are intensely focused on one big event — whether that event is the Jewish Day of Atonement or the U.S. Election Day. But our lives and our world have never depended upon a single day — or a single personality. Our "fates" are the culmination of thousands of small, daily decisions within our own power to enact.
More than two decades ago, while organizing rural peasants during one of the periods of political upheaval that characterize Haiti, Father Joseph Philippe realized that “even though the people might control who was president, they had no control over who ruled the economy.”
With three volunteers and a borrowed building, Father Joseph started Fonkoze — an acronym for “Shoulder to Shoulder Foundation” in Haitian Creole. It is a family of organizations that work together to provide financial and related mutual support services that empower Haitians — primarily women — to lift their families out of poverty. Today Fonkoze engages more than 200,000 Haitians, primarily in hard-to-access rural areas.
"And after the hurricane...and after the earthquake...and after the fire — a still, small voice." (First Kings 19:11-12)
Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas, and one of the poorest in the world. Efforts to provide top-down assistance over the decades — through relentless natural disasters and human violence — have been notoriously unsuccessful.
But Fonkoze consistently receives superlative ratings for its effectiveness in leveraging small amounts of money for life-changing impact. And it is at the forefront of efforts to empower the most vulnerable Haitians in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
In this season of change and uncertainty — when we face the fragile structures of our own lives — please listen for the "still, small voice" and be mindful of the small, daily opportunities to make a world of difference.