Once again a portion of the world is covered in rubble from an 8.9 earthquake — and the ravages from a "wall of water" from the tsunami.  Since then, I have been watching the news.  But – more than that – I’ve been thinking about the ramifications of these natural disasters that come our way in the form of earthquakes, tsunamis, and even hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, floods, droughts and the like. 

First of all – the videos that have come from Japan are heartbreaking – watching cars and houses crumble and move about like they were toys shows the amazing power of amassed water. The fear of what is going on with the nuclear power plant is also frightening. I’m not sure they are reporting the total truth about that. The human element in all of this is the worst – the mass death and destruction, is hard to imagine. Realizing all of this — it is hard for me to "sit" with this in the comfort of my home. Prayers are all well and good, but the victims need the basics of life now. What is the world’s role? What is *my* role? Yet – too many helpers only confuse things. In many respects – we are all "one" on this planet earth – or we should think of it in that fashion, but how do we take action?

I initially got immersed in the news right about when it happened. I was not able to sleep for some reason – and had also changed the channel from my usual HGTV to CNN. As I watched in the dark and silence of the night, the reports were almost surreal, and there was no going back to sleep for me. Basically I had only 2 hours of sleep that night – max.

Japan was as ready as any country for this kind of tragedy. They know their land is prone to this, and even the word "tsunami", I think, is a Japanese word. Their government is as well structured to handle it as is any country. (as compared to Haiti, for example). But – no one can be truly ready for what happened. 8.9 is "the big one", and I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been if the buildings / roads / bridges had not been built to earthquake codes. And, it’s my opinion that no one can ever be ready for a tsunami like the one they saw. Who could prepare, short of banning all habitation "that" far from the ocean’s shore?  To me – this shows, beyond the shadow of a doubt that WE humans are never not in charge. 

We humans think we are so smart, and have become cocky enough to think that our brains, amassed knowledge and technology can (or has the potential to) master anything, control everything, and be strong enough for any contingency.  The reality is – the universe rules.  No matter what we are able to do, or seemingly control, the universe is always capable of being in charge of the outcome.  Control is truly only an illusion.

This leads me to the role of God in all of this, and, to be honest … I don’t know.  I don’t want to get too heavy into this because, for me, my faith is weak and the unknown is too great.  I ask too many questions for which I have no answers.  Is God behind the universe and all these natural disasters?  If so, how much so?  Did He create them and cause them?  We give Him credit for nature’s beauty.  Should we not also give Him credit for the “bad”?  Is it possible that because of our limited human capacity to see the larger picture that we cannot see that there will be some good which can – and will – come out of tragedy?  Maybe that benefit won’t affect us – or the Japanese now, but could there be a future plan for all of this?  I can’t imagine that this would be much of a consolation to the Japanese most affected by this tragedy, maybe even feeling like a slap in the face!  I have heard it said that to try to answer these questions is not our job.  Our job is simply to trust that God has a Good Plan for us, and is there to give us strength and comfort during our trials.  I also get to thinking about some of the Old Testament “punishments” for “evil doing” by an “angry god”, and it’s also easy for me to go there when these huge disasters strike.  I write all of this, but continue to shake my head in bewilderment and skepticism.  Yeah … I did start this paragraph about my faith being weak, didn’t I…  I’ve come full circle.

Like the US, Japan’s people are used to all the amenities of modern life — electricity, plumbing, technology, communications of all kinds. Once we get "soft" by getting used to these things, having to go without, with little sign that these things will return is maybe harder. I am often amazed at the strength of human character when faced with these kinds of things, though. I’m not sure any of us know our own strength unless we are forced to be strong.

Thankfully the affects of the tsunami was lighter on Hawaii and the Pacific shoreline. Yet — there were people who were either crazed with fear beyond what was necessary – or those foolhardy folks who decided to purposely go out in the surf at the time of the "wave".

Yet – it is reminding me that Ray and I have houses on the two largest barrier islands on the east coast of the US. Are we crazy?  We’re not the only ones, either… Humans flock to the beach for it’s beauty and recreation — building houses, hotels, restaurants on the edge of gorgeous beaches, forgetting that all that beauty can turn on us.  It’s true that tsunamis and earthquakes aren’t quite as commonplace as they are on the west coast — but they DO happen, and there are fault lines in varieties of places all over the US. It is not out of the question that we could have "the big one" here, too. It’s probably not "if", but "when". I guess we all hope that it’s "not in our lifetime". Humans have a knack for burying their collective heads in the sand and forgetting that even though the ocean is magnificent – and gorgeous. It can turn nasty and mean during storms and tsunamis. Mountains also are majestic and beautiful – but we can’t forget how hills are formed — good old fashioned earthquakes (and volcanoes) are one way our landscape changes. Out of the ashes rise such beauty…?!  And good?

Sometimes I think we know precious little about all of this, and we need to learn more.

The day of the earthquake, a friend of mine and I went on a photo walk along a local beach not far from home.  It was kind of bittersweet for me to see such beauty – realizing that on the other side of the planet – this same water did such destruction — and how this water could do the same with us. Oddly – I found I appreciated the beauty more – maybe because I was more keenly aware of it’s potential strength, too.

There really are no good words about all of this, and this entry is just me — spinning my wheels – trying to find them. I suppose there rarely are understandable words to explain things when this kind of tragedy hits.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy…. I guess that’s the bottom line.