Beauty and grace shine amid turmoil

I was anxious as my plane touched down in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Foreigners were targets for kidnappers demanding ransom payments in a country debilitated by almost 75 percent unemployment. I knew the drive from the airport into the city was considered dangerous. But my driver, Christian, was waiting for me outside customs with a big smile. When he stuck his cheek out toward me for a hello kiss, I was immediately comfortable, my fears dissipating. I knew I would be safe on this drive.

Having been to the third world on many occasions, the poverty outside my window was sadly familiar: Most of the country was without electricity or running water. The country's presidential elections had been postponed four times. Haitians were fatigued from the daily struggle for survival. At nightfall, I could hear gunfire coming from the slums.

The next day was a Sunday. I asked to go to the main cathedral, Notre Dame, a huge sanctuary in the center of chaos. As morning mass ended, the congregation flowed out, looking lovely and calm in their Sunday best. These young girls in theirfrilly dresses were exactly the subjects I was hoping for. I love their beribboned hair and lacy socks. They floated down the street and out of my view, tickled that they had caught my eye. I was grateful for evidence of this beauty, purity, and grace in such difficult times.

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