By Dustin Metcalf
If you are half way sane, afraid to step near the edge of a cliff, or need to live by a plan then it would probably be best if you stopped reading right now. There I feel much better. Consider yourself warned. I have a crazy dream to share with you.
Imagine with me for a moment…
The scene opens on a rice patty as the sun is just beginning to rise. There is a slight mist rising from the green fields reaching up towards the heavens. Stillness permeates the air. As the camera fades out and pans to the left a city is revealed. The honking of horns, the yelling of voices, and the hum of city life shatter the stillness of the field. As the image zooms in, women sitting on the curb, selling their wares comes into focus. The camera moves down the pothole and trash filled street and settles on some men sitting on stools outside the remains of buildings.
Once bustling with life, the buildings now stand in ruins and appear lifeless. They are monuments to a life that once was or is it once hoped for? Either way, they stand as a constant reminder of what now is. A deep, Morgan-Freeman-like voice speaks as the camera zooms out and begins to take flight over the city. As the images of poverty begin to fill the screen, the voice declares, “Welcome to Gonaves, Haiti.”
It is ridiculous, of course. The words stand in dissonance to the images. It grates against the ears as the cacophony of images flow by. Children in rags, water jugs being filled near sewage; the every day events of Gonaves don’t seem to mesh with the hearty welcome. Suddenly, the flyover slows and the camera begins to zoom in on a building.
At first glance, it is no different than those that surround it. Its slightly rusted and dented tin roof is virtually identical to that of its neighbors. As the camera settles at ground level, the walls are revealed to be concrete, as are the buildings nearby. The paint is chipped and faded. On the surface it appears to be just another lifeless building. But suddenly the camera zooms through the aged and cracked front door.
An explosion of activity and life floods the lens. Old men and young men are at work. Music begins to fill the air and as the viewer takes in the scene it appears as though the men are dancing. As they work, their movements seem to have a dance-like quality to them. The older move much slower but do so with grace and efficiency. Their laboring has a ballet essence to them. The young bound around as if dancing to an internal hip-hop track. There movements are marked by effortlessness and strength.
The images of work and life, of smiles and laughing, of the old mentoring the young is a moving contrast to the images of life outside the walls of this humble building. As the music fades, the voice once again appears and begins to describe the scene…
(Sound of crickets)
Here’s the thing: This part hasn’t been written yet, because I need help. I can’t seem to get the words of the narration out, because I have no idea what the men are doing. I have a feeling, a stirring deep with in my heart that is begging to come out. Every so often I am encouraged by a sliver of clarity that shoots through the darkness of this dream, but these moments are fleeting. They keep me dreaming and thinking. But they are frustrating teasers, not the answers I want.
Do you know what I am talking about? Have you felt a stirring within you? Do you know the feeling of having a smoldering within you that needs to be set ablaze? If you have the evidence of such things in your life: the smell of smoke in your nostrils, a warming in your heart, then I need you.
You see, I’ve come to the devastating realization that I can’t do it on my own. It’s terribly upsetting for me to confess this to you, but I can’t do it. I can’t finish the dream; much less transform it into reality. I am weak. I am fragile. In the prime of my life, I have come to the sad realization that I am feeble.
The crushing reality of how powerless I am almost led me to close off the dream. Better to pretend I am who I want to be then to realize who I really am, right? I almost succumbed to it. I almost turned to the reliving of past successes instead of dreaming about the future. But thank God the images still flash across my mind! Thank God the dream lives on.
I have a dream. Powerful words, aren’t they? They are words that, once spoken, can change the world. They are words that seem to yearn to come alive. Of course, they are also words that come with a cost. It may cost reputations, finances, relationships and, as Martin Luther King, Jr. discovered, our lives. But to die a dreamer surely must be better than to die a cynic. To have lived life in hopes of creating a better world has got to be better than to die pretending that nothing was wrong in the first place, right?
The dream awaits its completion. Maybe all that is needed for the dream to come alive is for it to be voiced. Will you join your voice to my voice? Will you strengthen my resolve and let me do the same for you? Will you say with me: We have a dream. We have a dream. We have a…
Dustin lives with his wife, Olivia, and two sons, Drew and Ethan. They are co-pastor of a church in central California. This article was written in response to their mission trip to Haiti in November 2009.