By the Rev. Lauren Stanley, Missionary to Haiti, in her blog, "Go Into The World"
On Wednesday, I said a Requiem Mass for 14 of my parishioners at St. Jacques le Juste in Petion Ville, Haiti, who died in the earthquake on 12 January. I still don’t know who they are; I know only that 14 people, with whom I celebrated the Eucharist and life every week, are gone. I have been living with this painful unknowing for more than a week now, ever since I learned of their deaths. I have been living with the grief of not knowing the fate of more than 125 other friends.
Are they alive? Did they survive? Are they injured, lost, alone? The unknown is frightful place to be, and it is where I, and so very many others, have lived for three long weeks now.
When a dear friend, The Rev. Larry Packard, rector of Good Shepherd in Burke, Va., learned about my parishioners’ deaths, he immediately offered me the pulpit and table. “You need this,” he said. “You need to do a Requiem for your parishioners, even if you don’t know who they are.” I accepted, with a trembling heart. We planned it for Wednesday, at the regular noonday service. I knew about it all week. I knew I needed to put together the service, to choose the hymns and the lessons, to prepare a sermon.
But every time I thought about it, tears welled in my heart and in my eyes. I wanted to say this Mass. I wanted to honor those who have died. I wanted so very much to be faithful. But the pain of this loss seemed too great. So I would approach it in my heart, then back away, approach again, draw back again ... Finally, on Tuesday night, I realized: I couldn’t draw back any more. It was time to enter into the grief fully.
Read it all at Lauren's blog, "Go Into the World"