Wednesday, May 5, 2010


My husband was the one who came up with the name Delicate Fortress for this store. He and I were talking about the artisans I'd be featuring and how I wanted to reflect their experience and strength in the name of the store and he suggested Delicate Fortress.

I thought about this as I was reading the book I just read. It's an autobiography from Jean Cadet Robert entitled Restavec. Jean Robert's is a heart wrenching story about his life as a child slave in Haiti. He reveals the depth of his pain in an emotional and very real way, speaking of his interactions with his slavemaster and resulting feelings of torture he experienced. Abandoned by his father after his mother passed away, he was passed off to his slavemaster when he was just a toddler. He was eventually abandoned by her one cruel day and was to fend for himself when he was only 14. The strength of this child was amazing to me. Human strength only lasts so long though and he reveals as an adult the consequences of the life he was forced into. The inability to interact socially with others, the anger and fear he felt almost constantly and the abandonment he continued to experience revealed his fragility.

This child, turned adult, is a delicate fortress. A child of strength, able to conquer all odds, but not without human fragility and delicateness. The pain he experienced as a child did not go away when he grew up. It followed him. He remained delicate.

Jean Cadet Robert's story did not end with a message of his ability to conquer. I was hoping for that when I was reading it like I look for the hero or heroine to come out on top when I'm watching a movie. It ended with him continuing to be discouraged and continuing to fight the consequences of other's decisions. It ended like human reality actually works.

As I've become familiar with the Restavek Freedom Foundation, I have learned that he has integratrated his experiences as a child into a desire for change as an adult. He helps hundreds of restavek children in Haiti. He goes to see them. He holds and hugs and talks with them. He fights to change the culture of Haiti and the way the people there see restavek children. He gets discouraged, but he presses on.

Being a delicate fortress is painful. Forced into situations you did not ask for as a child or adult, you eventually have to decide if you're going to work to integrate those situations into your life or not. The integration of that pain provides great empathy for others and can potentially be used to help others in similar situations. Forgiveness is crucial. Honest dealing with the pain is demanding. Continuing to deal with that pain is a reality. Hope waits on the other side.

Jean Cadet-Robert is integrating his pain into his life, slowly but surely. He continues to be a delicate fortress.

Can you relate to any of this? Do you see yourself as a delicate fortress and where are you in the process of integration? If so, press on friends. Hope waits.

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