• John Ryan

Day 1: Laughing with God

Throughout my life, people have told me a saying: “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.” God, Bondye to those in Haiti, or some power moving behind what is seen seems to care little about the plans of humans. If it were Coehlo in his little neo-classic book The Alchemist, we could call this phenomenon the "Soul of the World" or our "Personal Legend." And, how I have often felt the influence of this power in my construction of plans.


I plan a career, a path in life, a year, and suddenly these plans dissipate and retreat beyond my grasp.


Shoot, sometimes I plan out my day… or just a single meal, and that plan seems to become nothing more than a little heavenly joke.


View from my (JR's) seat flying over the mountains of Northern Haiti to the study site in the South- 15 Feb 2018

And so, here I am. Somehow, in my series of ever-changing plans and redirections, I find myself on a plane. Again. I have flown often, yes, but this time, it is different. This time, I leave behind so much more. This time, I leave behind my little son, Bennett. I leave behind my wife, Roxana, the keeper of my heart. I leave behind the little nest of a home that we have been preparing for Bennett’s arrival.


I will be too far from them, for too long. After all, this is not what I planned. Why would I plan to leave the dearest blessings in my life? Somehow, the path, winding as it goes, has found me here. It is not a destination, where I am headed, and the more I live, the absence of destinations becomes clear. In its place, I have found roads, rivers of life. I have found companions with which to take in God’s wonder, laugh, cry… (but laughing all the more often), and to go exploring, side by side.


I have lost, often enough, those things I desired… let’s call them “plans”… of a college I wanted to attend, aspirations I thought pure, and friendships eroded to quickly.


And yet here I sit, missing my son, my wife, and thanking God for blessing me with so much love, joy, and companionship to miss!


Bridges fell, trails ended, rivers raged and slowed to a meander. At times the stones and sand I built my life upon crumbled, even imploded under me.


But still, life, as they say, went on. And with it, renewal, and with that, growth, and friendship, and beauty, and mountains, bending rivers, groves of trees, colors, clouds, forgiveness, peace, and love.


I write to my son, telling him of the adventure that this life is. On this particular turn in the road, I have to go alone. Not fun, I know. This happens in life. While he cannot be my adventure buddy this time, there is much time ahead of us, and family is always near in thoughts and heart. I believe that love wins over matters of distance and time. And so, I plan to write to family and friends who may want to see the progression of our year of adventure.


I see Haiti now. We pass the Isle of Tortuga, the mountains of Haiti’s northern arm rise beneath me. Here, a thin veil separates the human and spiritual world. As Haitians remind me this each day. I tell them I will see them tomorrow and hear “si Dye vle!”... that is, "if God wants." Or, as our dear friend tells my wife when we mention uncertainty in life: “Roxana, God is moving SO fast!”


So, does God laugh at our plans? I think something may be missing from this proverb of sorts.


I like to think that God listens, nods, and lovingly chuckles to himself, filled with joy. Then, he leans in closely to assure us, “My child, you have no way of knowing the magnificent, difficult, and beautiful plans I have for you. Come, follow me, and we shall have the greatest adventure of all.”


Let’s do it. Let’s go adventuring.

All of my love to Benny Boy and Roxana,

John Ryan


Thursday, 15 February 2018

Flight ATL to PAP