I’m taking a break from my normal postings to reflect on the disaster in Japan. I look at pictures on the internet and I am just in awe of the destruction. It is absolutely impossible to wrap my mind around what the people in the devastated areas are experiencing right now. One picture, in particular, from Samaritan’s Purse, International triggered this post.
It is a picture of an old man with a cane standing out in front of a house, looking at the house. The house is a two story, and the second level looks like a house might look if it got a little wind damage in a passing storm, but the first level tells the story. You can literally see through the house to the other side. All walls and windows are gone. It reminds me of the homes that were built on stilts that I’d see growing up at the Jersey Shore . This home resembles those homes, only, it is obvious that this house wasn’t meant to look this way. It is clear from the picture that a great wall of water came and just swept that first floor away, leaving only destruction in its path.
I look at that picture, and that old man, who seems to have an interest in that particular home. Although no back story is given, one can imagine that it is perhaps his home, maybe somewhere he lived with his family, or a neighbor’s or friend’s home. How long did he live in that town? What was his job? Did he raise children there? Did he live there all his life? Then I think about the force that came through and destroyed that home and countless others, as well as anything else in its path. I watch video of roads being swept away, infrastructure of cities being destroyed, airports being leveled, stores and homes and gas stations erased.
It is just amazing to consider the consequences of this destruction, because with the businesses and homes, schools and infrastructure, entire communities were swept away. Communities and social circles rise up around the tangible supports within our cities and towns. And when the physical scaffolding of a community is removed, those relationships and social circles are also destroyed. So these people have not only lost their homes and belongings, their schools and gathering places, their places of work, they have also lost the the invaluable networks of which they were a part. The thought of rebuilding cities and towns and the communities that they supported from nothing seems an insurmountable task. The history, the exact sequences of events, that brought those communities to the point they were at on March 10, 2011 cannot be repeated. And though I am sure that eventually the displaced will have homes again, roads will be rebuilt, schools will open, I feel sorrow for them for having to start new lives.
Moving to Minnesota was traumatic enough for my family, and we can still travel back to see the place from where we came. I can’t imagine having to start completely over, with the only reminders of your former life being the images in your head and the stories you can collect from the people who are left. I am sorry that yet another part of humanity is having to suffer in this way.