Thursday, October 19, 2006


October 19, 2006

On Saturday I’ll be returning to the United States for a short visit. The last two weeks or so have been busy with preparations for it and with other things. I was in Berlin last week and before that I had spent the previous two weekends in the Eifel, one with family and another with friends. German classes are in full swing and they keep me thinking all the time, new words and new and challenging opportunities to test my language skills, like this afternoon when I had to travel to the Cologne/Bonn airport to claim two packages shipped from New York this summer and just now arriving. A great deal is going on yet the thing that is foremost in my mind is the fact that soon I will be separated again from the people I love most in the world.

His Holiness is sleeping now, taking a late afternoon nap. He had his Flu shot this morning and he’s feeling it a little. I also learned this morning that the operation he had last month was not entirely successful and that he may be required to go back into the hospital. I cannot begin to say how much this upsets me – particularly after I promised him that he would not have to have another operation. At moments like these I reflect on those children who struggle for life in desperate situations around the world. I am reminded of a small orphanage I visited in 2003 in the mountains above Port Au Prince, Haiti. There hundreds of children with innumerable afflictions ranging from metal retardation, blindness, AIDS and other assorted physical and mental health issues, were cared for by a group of devoted religious and non-religious staff members. We were shooting a documentary video and His Holiness was about a month away from entering the world. While there I was given a gift by one of the nurses, a small mobile made from the scraps of plastic containers tossed to the roadside. One of the little girls who lived in the orphanage made these mobile for the other children who were unable to leave their beds. She was 13 years old and had died just three days before we arrived. Her creation is a constant reminder to me of just how very fortunate we are here in the first world. Whenever I hear myself or anyone else complain that their home or apartment isn’t large enough, or bright enough or modern enough, I think about the children in that beautiful albeit rudimentary enclave in Haiti and the scores of other children I happened to meet on that trip in Kenya, Ghana, Zambia and South Africa.

I am distressed to think that the person I love the most in this world is about to have to go back into a situation that marginally threatens his well-being. At the same time I can’t help but acknowledge the thousands, nee millions of other parents on this planet who despair at the conditions in which they must struggle to provide for their children. It doesn’t make me care for His Holiness any less, but it does make me stop short of ever feeling sorry for myself.