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Posts Tagged ‘BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship’

Three years ago a powerful earthquake in Haiti devastated an already suffering nation.  The world sent aid, but not nearly enough, and Haiti has largely receded from the consciousness of the world.

Shortly after the earthquake, I helped to plan and lead an interfaith service at the BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, in Warrington, Pennsylvania, where I serve as minister.  Hindus, Christians, Jews, Unitarian Universalists and others gathered, raised awareness, prayed together, and most importantly raised funds to help Doctors Without Borders in their Haitian relief work.

We also sang together.  Haiti Cherie is one Haiti’s best known and best loved songs, and tells a different side of the story from the one we usually hear – this is not the Haiti of grinding poverty, oppression and violence, but of beauty, courage and community.  This is the Haiti of an African people who overthrew their European slaveholders a full sixty years before the American Civil War.  This is the Haiti of joyfulness and music.

It’s an easy trap to fall into – we imagine that the lives of people living in a place like Haiti are entirely defined by suffering – and somehow that lessens the impact of the current calamity.  But real people’s lives are seldom like that, and it’s important to remember that we, who would give our help, do so because we are privileged and we are able, but not because we are better or because our lives and nations are somehow set above others.  The Haitian people recognizes the ills their country has faced, and the far worse problems brought by the earthquake, but they are also proud of their country, and with good reason.  We would do well to learn from them.

I learned Haiti Cherie for the service, doing the best I could with the Creole, using an English translation from a  recording by Harry Belafonte, and adding a fourth verse (“you are never lost to sorrow”) written in the wake of the earthquake’s destruction.  When we came back to the first verse, I lined it out for the people gathered, and four congregations sang it well and loudly.

This recording was done rather hastily that week – I had a bit of a cold, so I won’t pretend it’s the best recording I ever made, but it may be one of the most heartfelt.  The link should take you to the song.  Enjoy it, and if you can spare a little, donate again to earthquake relief.

Dan Schatz sings Haiti Cherie

(NOTE:  Pleased ignore any video ads below – they have nothing to do with the post or this blog.  The link above will take you to the song.)

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I love Christmas.  I love the carols, the greenery, the candles, the meals with family and friends, the silliness, the gift-giving – all of it.  But perhaps what I love the best is the way we talk about Christmas in my church – that the birth of a child is always a time for celebration, and every child brings hope to the world in their own very unique way.  Over the years I’ve told the age old story in countless ways – through songs, stories, and more.

Most years I write a poem for Christmas, and I’d like to share my personal favorite – written ten years ago for the candlelight Christmas service at the BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.  Enjoy, and Merry Christmas to all!

A Christmas Poem

It happened years ago,
down between the folds of the hills,
beneath the light of so many stars and one.
When the first cries of the newborn
pierced the midnight air,
it was a new song of life.
And those who came to see the princeling
wrapped in soft sheets of his mother’s love
discovered each one a soul made new
by the light of an infant child.
Though centuries push forward,
the story is the same,
ever the same.
A child born,
a mother’s love,
a new wonder under the stars.
It is the gift of ages,
small and regal,
looking up into us
with hopeful expectation.

– Rev. Dan Schatz
Christmas 2002

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