At 10 minutes to three this afternoon, Miel and I were on our way to pick up Isaiah at school. She raced ahead of me on her bike and I spotted a friend's car in the line to the car park, bopping up and down. "Wow, she's really rocking out," I thought. Then her car started to jump and jerk..."car trouble?" I wondered. As I passed, she said in her lilting Australian accent, "Rachel, is this an earthquake?" just as the ground beneath me seemed squishy. I caught up with Miel and we huddled on the sidewalk near the school as I watched the utility pole sway back and forth.
We were ushered into the office as the high school principal calmly instructed students and teachers to stay quiety under their desks as the quake and a couple of aftershocks calmed down.
Once we were allowed to pick up the children, normal life resumed...climbing on the play equipment, snacks at the canteen. Isaiah said he wasn't scared at all of the earthquake, but that when he came out from under his desk, his heart hurt a lot :)
Soon another hit and children were ushered out of the canteen and into the playground. Miel shed her first tears of the afternoon...not out of fear, but because she hadn't gotten to choose her snack yet and Isaiah had.
It was an unforgettable experience to feel this earth go soft and liquid. It actually felt really neat...like I could feel the molten core of the earth beneath the thin crust. Like we were on a boat swaying over rough seas. Of course, during that moment there's no awareness of what's happening elsewhere and the loss of life that ensued. There's no "news." There's just the gentle rolling goes went on and on...and on.
When we got home, we watched a video on tectonic plates and earthquake causes, but in the moment, I told the children that it was Mother Earth settling herself. And I could feel in the moment and in the hours that passed after, that it was another one of her many ways of asking us to wake up, to wake up right now, to the beauty and the truth and the love that surrounds us. In moments like these, just as in other times when we feel her power (snowstorms, typhoons, hurricanes, floods), we know what matters. We wake up.
So, as so many friends are waking up on the other side of the world. I go to sleep hoping that the tsunamis will be gentler than expected. That Steve has as comfortable a night's sleep as one can have on the floor of his office cafeteria. That the three high school students taking refuge with us because they can't get back to Tokyo have warm reunion with their parents tomorrow. That I'll figure out how to turn my gas back on tomorrow. That I'll return to the kind of cooking that my neighbor Mandy must be doing...when I told her I couldn't cook on my stove and asked if she had a warm bowl of food for the students staying with us, offered them up a choice of chicken curry, pad thai, and shepherd's pie, all of which she just happened to have as "leftovers." That I'll remember to count my blessings tomorrow and the day after that.
And I'll go to sleep with some fresh batteries in my flashlight and some warm clothes for the kiddos and I at the side of the bed...just in case.
Thanks for all the love, friends! Right back at ya'.