Thinking about earthquakes. The devastation in Haiti and the suffering that is going on there make it hard to countenance my concerns with the petty issues of my own life right now. What should be my response? What can be my response?
Isn’t it odd, how our lives seem to be layered with different kinds of concerns? Personal happiness or discontents, the well-being of friends and family, the actions of governments, natural cataclysms. Sometimes my mind seems to flit from one level to another, jerking my emotions from contentment to anxiety to appalled compassion to downright fear, and back again. Watching a news program can take me through the gamut several times, as one report follows another too quickly to honor any of them with an appropriate response, and I am left at the end somewhat dazed. So I re-immerse myself in my own private concerns, things over which I feel I have some sort of control.
But back to earthquakes. When you are in one, you suddenly realize that you have no control. Not only that, but everything you take for granted betrays your trust. The roof over your head, the instant obedience of power and water supplies to your flip of a switch, the presence of food in grocery stores – all this becomes uncertain or non-existent. Even the very ground under your feet. It takes only a few seconds of shaking to show us our true position, and after the shaking stops, that realization stays with us – for awhile – even if no great damage is done. And then we slide back into assuming the earth is stable, and believing that our own little concerns are all that matters, and that we have the power to control them.
Do you think God is frustrated with us? I would be.
I woke up this morning thinking about all this – and about today’s trip out of town and back, over a very high bridge. I thought of being on that bridge when “the big one” hit, how the road would rise in waves before me, buckle, and send me and my car plummeting into the water far below; what I would do as the car sank – use my cell phone to call my loved ones one last time? – a possible escape and finding my way via debris to land, and what I’d find there. But happily, it didn’t happen, the bridge remained solid, and I am home again. Sometimes I wonder – do other people go through these things, or is this merely the curse of a too-fertile imagination?