Shela’s Path

This is a poem that I wrote while flying home from Haiti.  It is a poem about Shela, the 14 yr old girl who we ministered to in Camp Coq.  Shela is a representation of the countless children living in Haiti in complete poverty and hopelessness.  I am thankful to have met her and privileged to call her my friend


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“Shela’s Path”

She rises early in the morning just like she does any other day

But today will be different, though now, she knows it not

As she finishes with her routines of the morning, she puts on her dirty worn out sandals and begins her trek down the steep mountain path just like she does every day

But today will be different, though now, she knows it not

Her feet hop quickly from one firm rock to the other amidst the slippery slopes.  She knows this path well.  She has traveled it too many times.

As she reaches the bottom, she notices something peculiar.

Behind the big iron gates where there is normally silence, she hears voices…unfamiliar voices in her world…yet somehow familiar to her heart

She approaches the door with both apprehension and excitement fighting for position within her weary soul.  “Today is the same”, she tells herself, but yet she knows that something is different.  She opens the door.

Instantly, she is transformed.  Her thoughts come to life.  Her dreams are awakened from a long and painful slumber.  She feels beautiful.  She feels strong.  “There is hope”, she tells herself, and nothing within her denies it.

The house behind the iron gates is plain, simple, and lovely.  But to her, it is much more than lovely.  It is a castle…and she is the princess.

She is embraced without reservation by these strange, yet familiar people.  She exchanges her ragged dress for the robes of royalty.  She feeds at the banqueting table and is filled.  She is given a new name.  Shela.  She is touched by the very hand of God

As she leaves to answer calls coming from her world, she closes the iron door behind her and heads back up her path to her home on the mountain

The path is not steep tonight.  She dances up the mountain with ease.  Every step is secure as she quickly reaches the top and walks to her home.

She opens the broken plank of wood that serves as a door, ducks behind the dirty torn sheet that serves as a wall, and lays down on her mattress which she shares with her brother.

Even though she lies in the dark underneath the tin roof that covers the tiny mud home, her thoughts are elsewhere as she drifts off to sleep with a smile on her face.

Shela rises early the next morning with the same smile that she wore the night before.  She adorns herself with the robes that she was given the day before, and she begins her steps down the path with hurried excitement and anticipation of what the day will bring behind the iron gates.

But today will be different, though now, she knows it not

She reaches the bottom of the mountain with ease.  She doesn’t even remember how she got down.  But then she sees something.

Her radiant smile suddenly pauses on her face as she looks upon the heavy iron gates that are clad with lock and chain.  She puts her ear to the door that leads to her castle, but all is silent.

She hears nothing, except for the sound of a little child crying in the house behind her.  A sound that she wants to forget coming from a world she wants to leave behind.

She stands for a long moment which seems to freeze her world around her forever.  But forever passes.

Her smile fades as she turns away to make the climb back up the path to her home.

The path feels awfully steep.

Her tired legs lose a foothold and she falls down momentarily.

She gets back up and continues to climb, but notices that her dress is now dirty from the fall.  She presses on…

She reaches the top and sees her house that awaits her.

Before going back inside, she pauses to look out over the mountains.  They are beautiful, yet ugly…a paradox that Shela understands all too well.

She looks out at the beauty of her country on each distant mountain top

She looks back at the path that once led her to another world…a trace of hope glimmers in her eyes.

She turns again to look at her own mountain top…the glimmer fades

Everything looks the same

She cannot hear the sounds of the iron gates that seem a million miles away.  They whisper, “Shela, one day, things will be different, though now, you know it not.”

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