Imagine this: the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti—Cite Soleil, to be exact. A slum of seemingly infinite size and unimaginable poverty. Dusty, litter-lined streets with scantily clad people aimlessly milling about. Children scampering in grimy clothes, perhaps a teeshirt or shorts, no diapers whatsoever, and shoes a rarity. The air is hot and muggy, with the scent of unidentifiable debris and open sewage circulating in the space of our shared oxygen.
This is where I met him: Christopher. I wasn’t looking for him, but—by some strange mechanism—he knew to find me. I visited Haiti for just 6 days, on a service trip. And of that time, I was only in Cite Soleil for one morning, but that’s all that was needed for our souls to connect.
My team was delivering free, sanitized water to a couple different streets in this destitute district, where even dirty water is either unavailable or sold by the bucket-full at a high price. We went in with a gigantic water-truck and hose that make fire engines look like a Tonka toy. As these mammoth receptacles crept into the narrow alleys, residents scurried toward us from all directions with their buckets, basins, plastic “swimming pools” (the kind I grew up splashing in on my grassy yard during the warm Minnesota summers), and even large barrels. This was their opportunity to collect fresh water for the day, and they were not going to miss it.
At the first stop, we were descended upon by children devouring any positive attention, hugs and play they could get. Where basic physical survival is the highest priority, the supposed secondary need for affection and recognition goes largely unattended. As others from our group assisted water delivery, I balanced one little girl on a jutted-out hip and held another child’s hand as a third made a veritable attempt to shimmy up my body and get in on the cuddle-action as well. Yet, almost as soon as they glommed onto me, they were off and running to gain interaction with the next person, in a merry-go-round of vying for attention.
It was at the second stop, however, that this inundation shifted. I took a turn holding the giant water hose as another team member pointed it into the vessels residents thrust forth to get their fill. You can imagine that draining 1,000-plus gallons in a tolerable flow takes some time. Stationary and supporting the hose, I felt a sudden and unexpected tug behind me, at the base of my untucked tee shirt. I glanced down to see a little boy, not more than three-years-old, fastened onto me as if he were clutching a tail. Sporting tiny, curly little hairs on his round head, he wore a grungy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles teeshirt (from the original appearance of the half-shelled superheroes in the ‘90s), no bottoms to speak of, but blessed with albeit sooty velcro sandals. This was Christopher.
Again making good use of a hip, this time to prop up the hose, I freed my left hand to reach down and touch this little human. I patted his back to nudge him closer to my leg, but he didn’t budge, didn’t lean in, didn’t even look up at me. He just stood there, latched on to my tee-tail, and he stayed, waiting. He waited. And waited. The water gushed forth, and Christopher just waited.
When the tank drained, the hose slackened and drooped to the gravel below. I turned around to this child who stood patiently for me to complete my task, not seeking out any other adult from our team but waiting just for me. As soon as I pivoted, he released my shirt, tipped his head back looking up for the first time, then slowly raised his arms. Scooping him up, little Christopher intuitively wrapped his whole body around me, legs squeezing my waist, arms clasping my neck, and his dust-smudged face tucked firmly into my shoulder. It was as if he’d come to me a thousand times as if we’d always known—and loved—each other.
Our team walked down to a pier extending into Port-au-Prince Bay, and Christopher remained nestled into me. We meandered slowly, separate from the crowd. Even though I don’t have birth-kids (I’m a stepmom), an apparent maternal instinct rose up and inspired me to sing him the song that flowed into my mind… This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine… This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…
Have you ever had one of those moments in life where time just stopped? Where it seemed like nothing in the world around you existed, other than the space you shared with another soul? This was one of those for me. I felt like Christopher and I had always been connected on a deeper level, in ways that cannot be experienced by our limited human senses or understood with our analytical brains. And I couldn’t help but wonder, how did he know to pick me? I mean, out of all the people on our team, most of whom were not occupied with the water hose, what drew him toward me? What made him wait for me? It’s almost as if our souls recognized each other as if that moment was destined to be shared.
I held Christopher as long as I could. But eventually, I had to mount the pickup that would drive us away from Cite Soleil and separate me from my newfound, little beloved. While nothing is impossible, it’s likely I’ll never see him again. Yet in that all-too-brief exchange, Christopher opened me up in a profound way to think differently about who I cross paths with in life.
You think the people you meet are just humans, but they are not. They are also precious souls with whom you have varying degrees of connection and different desires for ways to engage, interact and evolve together through the living of Life. Soul-recognition is tangible; you know when you meet “your people.” You feel drawn in, you want to stay near them, and—if you’re wise—you consciously enjoy however much time you get.
Jennifer Kern Collins
Jennifer Kern Collins is a speaker, trainer, and author of the national award-winning book The Drama-Free Way: At Thought-Management Guide to Navigating Chaos and Thriving. Get your free copy of Jennifer’s book here: https://intrinsicsoulutions.lpages.co/drama-free-way-ebook/ She works with organizations and individuals to help them move beyond drama and activate higher levels of their potential so they can do more good work, attract abundance, have more fun, and live in alignment with their True Spirits. Connect with Jennifer at: http://jenniferkerncollins.com