Cold morning in February, my birth month. Sunday morning I sent in an application to volunteer in the Philippines for a month. Now I'm anxiously checking my email every day to see if I've been accepted. What if I answered the questions too briefly? Perhaps I didn't go into enough detail. There were whole pages to fill up. I didn't fill them up. I was succinct.
Going into another disaster zone scares me but because I've done it before, I know what to expect (sort of). Sleeping in a tent, minimal food, distressed and traumatized people. Emergencies beyond me. In Haiti we were asked to treat all comers. So we saw hypertension, skin diseases, sick kids, burns, the works. We had reference books and baggies of pills, under a tarp in the street. We called it the rubble clinic because it was amidst the rubble, next to a collapsed church with the remains of the nursery school children inside.
I can deliver a baby, manage a hemorrhage, sew up a tear. I can resuscitate a baby. I can witness death and destruction without losing it. What I can't do it fix it. I can't make all the wars and natural disasters stop. I can't end the suffering. But I can be present for those it has affected. I can do that. I can get myself half way around the world to be in the presence of great sorrow. That I can do.