Mar 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake: Being There in Mind and Spirit

I normally wake slowly and peacefully (or grudgingly and grumpily) to a classical music station, so it was the last place I would have expected to hear the news of the earthquake in Japan, so when my half-open ears took in "greatest earthquake in Japan's 140 years of recording, " I at first thought this must be some anniversary of an earlier quake that was being remembered. But a minute more brought me fully awake as I grasped that  the understated announcer was describing the disaster that Japan was facing today.

I decided that this was one of those "teachable moments," even if an ugly one, a moment that I owed Mei a lesson on because this event would be talked about for days, weeks, even years from now and she deserved to have at least a simple understanding of its importance.  And how can we pray for those in need when we don't really understand what their needs are?

Thankful once again to be homeschooling in the Internet Age, I went straight to Enchanted to print off information about tsunamis  to read (for that proved to be the more serious topic), quizzes to answer, and a map of Japan to label.  (I considered purchasing Hands Of a Child's Earthquakes lapbook or downloading a free one from  Homeschool Share. Lapbook Lessons has a free Japan lapbook. I may follow up with one of these.)

It became quickly apparent though that helping her to understand about the tragedy and guarding her against the grimness was going to be a delicate task in our instant-info age.  She actually turned her back on the mesmerizing video feeds of the engulfing waters, choosing to play with me instead, as if she wasn't interested.  God's way of shielding our children when He knows they're not ready for some things?

At another point I was checking the web for some update about the potential for a tsunami on the West Coast where we have several family members.  While on, I clicked on their viewer uploads of texts and photos from people at the scene.  Unfortunately  she saw the unnerving post before I could shut it down: "I am dying."

Teachable moments are one thing. Living in them is another .

As I drove about our suburbs, I tried to grasp what the victims experienced in those moments when their cars were being swallowed by the encroaching waters. I looked at all of us in line at a stop-light, and imagined if it was us having our conversations, listening to music, thinking about our next errand and then--from nowhere-- watching ourselves being overtaken by a a sea growing before us, passing under our cars, rising, picking our vehicles off the pavement and now floating, crashing, overturning, and submerging us. The panic, the terror, the screams.

I look across the fields from our front window and imagine all of that simply washed away, scrubbed of houses, trees, schools, churches, people. 

As we cook a nice meal--just coincidentally fish and sticky rice, Japanese staples--I wonder what those families are eating, if anything.

Too horrible to think about and yet how I choose to enter into their last moments. And the lives of those who must go on. 
A woman, carrying a child on her back, walks over tsunami-drifted debris and mud in Rikuzentakada, Iwate Prefecture, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

I've always felt that death by drowning, along with being buried alive, would have to be my least favorite way to go. I know My Savior, and I know where I'd be going, but I hope I don't have to go like that.

Father God, be with the people of Japan.



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