Last night I was on a Santa run. I dropped by a friend's place to give him the perfect Christmas gift: pop rocks and can of Coke. As I was walking to his stairwell, I heard windows around me rattle, then a bicycle fell over. The complex is circular and sometimes winds howl around inside the courtyard. I didn't feel a wind, but what explained the windows and the bike?
Well, just as I mounted the first step, one of the roommates was scurrying down the stairs, his eyes bugged. "Did you feel that?" he asked. "Feel what? Was that a wind?" I said.
"That was my first earthquake!" he continued. Then he hurried down the stairs to inspect the courtyard, his eyes still bugging.
"Oh, an earthquake, huh?" I said. I hadn't felt a thing from it. And I didn't feel anything much about it either.
Since I'm from Florida, and now live in a place that only 6 years ago was rocked by a 7.0 quake, you might expect my tolerance for quakes is pretty low. This roommate with bugged eyes is from NYC, so he was flabbergasted. I guess having lived in Taiwan over three years and feeling things shake every few months has quickly gotten me adjusted to quakes and tremors. Unless it's a big one, in which case panicking is the worst thing to do, I can't seem to generate alarm for any lesser tremor.
Apparently this latest quake was a biggie, a 7.1 just off the southwest coast of Taiwan. It made for three shakes over 5-10 minutes, but I tell you, I felt not a thing. Dumb me, I guess.
It saddens me because, while I felt nothing, apparently two dozen people felt great turmoil (China Post). Surely there is a deep truth about life in this. The worst tragedy of some people's month (or perhaps life), is but a curiosity for someone miles away. I pray the one casualty had prepared his soul to meet God. Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy. His grace is given to deliver us eternally from such natural woes, even as they destroy us in time.
I cannot help but see something providentially "stirring" in all this: the quake struck on the two-year anniversary (12/26) of the massive Sumanda-Atraman tsunami. Further, something that might have stirred awareness, of not solidarity, in the West, Great Britain experienced its biggest quake of the year that same day. Certainly, facile connections could be made between any number of events. But for the moment, I wonder: How is my soul doing? And yours?
NOTE: The China Post provides different info than I first heard. Apparently, measured by (or in) Taiwan, the Richter value was 6.7.