I’ve been sending prayers out to the people of Chile, who—as you’ve probably seen in the news—experienced a magnitude 8.8 earthquake yesterday. As someone who lives in earthquake country myself, hearing about this type of natural disaster is more frightening to me than hearing about tornadoes or hurricanes, as I have no experience with them. But as far as earthquakes, I live just a few miles from the Hayward Fault, which is supposed to be due for a major earthquake within the next couple decades.
When the Earth rages, it’s hard to think of it (or Mother Nature) as nurturing, life-giving and beautiful. Earthquakes in particular I think show a side of Mother Nature that is completely unpredictable and randomly violent, and so violent that she can literally kill hundreds of thousands of people (not to mention animals and other living things) within minutes, as happened during the Indian Ocean earthquake and subsequent tsunami that killed over 200,000 people in India, Thailand, Indonesia and other countries.
The deity that I think best captures this double-edged spirit of Nature to me is the Indian goddessKali, who embodies both the awesome creative power of nature as well as its destructive side. Kali in my mind always represented these twin energies which are both present in all of our lives, and which are dependent on each other. Think of the rotting leaves and dead branches on a forest floor, which decompose and ultimate become the fuel or food from which the forest regenerates itself. Compost works under the same principle.
The pain and death that take place during something as fiercely violent and rapid as an earthquake, though, are what make them so terrifying. In some ways, I am glad that I live in an earthquake-prone area, because it forces me to respect Nature’s awesome power. But still, I pray for the people in Chile, and Haiti, and in all the places off the world where earthquakes cause such incredible human suffering. And remember, with a little fear and a lot of humility, that I may be in the position that they are in someday.