Earthquake. Tsunami. Below-freezing nighttime temperatures, and snow. Not the serene snow that drapes the shoulders of Mt.
Fuji on a postcard or a painted screen, but a bone-chilling one that adds to the misery of those who have lost homes, villages, loved ones. Then heat, way too much, at the damaged nuclear power plant, heat that valiant workers are still struggling to control as the rest of the world watches and wonders and remembers what “meltdown” means when it is used literally rather than metaphorically.
I watched the early pictures in horror and disbelief—and also in awe of the flimsiness of human existence in the rush of moving water. Later, as intrepid reporters dispatched individual stories to the rest of the world, I watched with a range of other emotions: grief for those grieving, admiration for those who acted heroically, relief for those with miraculous accounts of survival or reunion.
Through it all, I have wondered: What has this to do with me?
My own life these last few weeks has seen disruptions, too, though they are so minor I feel ashamed to mention them. The mild dislocation and inconvenience that comes with renovating a kitchen—but who in
Japan would not take choose that over the physical and psychological trauma they are enduring? A close friend with an infection that at one point threatened the loss of her foot—not such a minor thing, actually, but nevertheless easier to face and with a better prognosis here where roads are passable, water is not contaminated, doctors are available, and hospitals have standing walls. A dying beloved dog to whom we will probably have to say good-bye later this week.
I respond to these things as best I can. I try to be patient with carpenters and painters, even when they inadvertently track in mud and blow dust all over the house. I admire—and am grateful for—their skills. I find the emergency room, and I wait and pray as tests and surgical procedures illuminate a path forward. I spoon feed vanilla ice cream to a frail English cocker, coaxing her into swallowing pills the vet has prescribed, and I carry her outdoors when she needs to go.
But I cannot help but feel that the disasters in
Japan call me to respond to them as well—not by doing anything dramatic, like selling all and going there, but by doing something. Perhaps by adjusting the way I use resources of time and money, water and electricity, food and material goods. Perhaps by a gift or action that would help shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, comfort the afflicted, or help protect or heal the environment—if not in Japan, then at least somewhere on this fragile island planet that we all share.
What about you? Has the recent news from
Japan—or elsewhere in the world—called to you, too? If so, how will you respond?
Angier Brock, Guest Blogger