In a very weird synergy of events I was reading through my wall of friends Facebook postings about an hour ago when I came across a link about the 'astrological' possibility of increased natural disasters during the coming week (specifically, March 19) due to a "supermoon" effect.
(You can read the article here.)
The theory behind this supermoon effect is that due to the narrowing proximity between the Earth and a full Moon, chaos and havoc will ensue with extreme natural disasters bringing great damage to the planet and suffering to its people.
Growing up in earthquake territory, I learned to yawn and roll the other way in bed (away from the window) when things started to shake. I never feared earthquakes much as a child, other than "The Big One" we've been told to expect in this state since my mother was a child in the 1940s, and her mother before her. I actually felt grateful to live in a state where earthquakes were the worst natural disaster and felt sorry for others who lived in places where blizzards and tornadoes might strike.
In my childhood and adolescent nightmares though, a tidal wave would rise up and crash over my childhood home along the shore. In every dream, I would open the front blinds of my parents' house to see a wall of water looming large above me. This must be one of the most primal fears innate to humankind.
Close friends and family members all know that since the December 26 Banda Aceh disaster a few years ago, I've been more than a little freaked out about tsunamis. I wept a river of tears over the stories of families suddenly ripped apart, husbands who lost their wives and eight children in a moment; children left without parents; lovers who never saw each other again and had no time to say goodbye. Dumbfounded by the extent of the damage and incredible death toll, I began to look at my beloved ocean as a truly formidable foe.
My poor husband has since witnessed more nights than I care to admit of awakening in the middle of the night to find me poring over tsunami inundation maps for our city... especially during the three years when we were living at sea level. This obsession finally ended when I got the sense to email a famous oceanographer/geologist and ask for his opinion about our relative risk for a coastal disaster. (He advised that at our low elevation I invest in life jackets and then take a deep breath, enjoy the neighborhood and get some sleep.)
Still, I'll be honest and share that I didn't weep any tears over leaving that lovely island paradise to move to higher ground... which I am still not sure is quite high enough, but at least offers us the opportunity to head for the hills if need be.
Hence when I saw the "supermoon/disaster" post I was just sitting on the couch congratulating myself on the end of my years-long worry about earthquakes and tsunamis when I happened to notice a breaking news alert on CNN.com informing me (along with the rest of the world) that Japan has just suffered an insanely large earthquake (8.9 by US Geological Survey?) with a massive tsunami whose waves of mud are/were up to 30 feet and have carried cars, boats and even buildings for several miles inland. Several miles? Eee gads!!!! And there you have it, I'm worrying again.
I've now been watching the video footage of this seeming wall of water spreading rapidly across the Japanese farmland and coastal cities with cars driving calmly by on the highway before noticing the crush of Fate headed their way - stopping - then trying desperately to speed away and often not making it. You feel like you are watching a big budget disaster flick and then you realize with horror that you are watching real people just like you experience their final moments on Earth. For me, the experience has been sickening. I'm watching my worst nightmare come true.
This is apparently the most devastating earthquake to strike Japan in 140 years. Tsunami warnings have now expanded all across the Pacific Ocean to places as far away as Central and South America, Russia, Taiwan and Hawaii. The energy from the tsunami itself is supposed to reach my own home state in about eight hours, but not anticipated to do much damage here. I guess we'll see what happens to Hawaii in about three hours.
At moments like this I have to ask where God is in the world, and how such a sudden and catastrophic tragedy can be part of a greater plan. I have spent much of my adult life trying to outwit the forces of life and death that are infinitely more powerful than I could even imagine... and recently, trying to make a deeper peace with my total lack of power to protect either myself or those I love from disaster.
I don't even know what to say.
Tonight I am praying with all my heart for the residents of Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture, all of the residents and animals of Fukushima prefecture and Tochigi prefecture... and for all of the other coastal communities in Japan that have suffered so much in the past few hours. I do not (and will never) understand why such random, violent and horribly sad things happen to innocents.