Monday, December 03, 2012

Earthquakes and the End of the World

The end of the world came twice for me.  Or has it been three times?  Yes, three times.

The first time I was a mere 15 year old, sitting on a desk on the second story of our high school building, trying to stay awake from a lecture about… well, gee I don’t know what now.  Anyway, there was a hushed pause in *Mrs. Mires’ monotone caused by a seismic quake that registered a 6.2 on the Richter scale.    I looked out to see the water tank swaying and sloshing water as if the Incredible Hulk was rattling a couple of it’s legs.  Trembling, I stared at Mrs. Mires, as did some 40 pairs of eyes. Mrs. Mires, stared back, pale as chalk.   Someone from the back of the room, whose head was still thankfully on her shoulders, raised her hand and suggested we exit the building.  We did.  Mrs. Mires exited some other way, presumably to check on her children in another part of the campus.   We huddled with an entire school at an open field as aftershocks rocked the campus.  The following day, rumors swirled that the end of the world was coming.

Courtesy:  Image by Zan/
The second earthquake of my life occurred while I was sound asleep on the 12th floor of the skyscraper condominium I lived in.  I woke up in the dead of night to a bed and building shaking like a turbulent airplane (which I later learned was due to the bearings on the bottom, made specifically to sway with and withstand an earthquake.)   Since my bed was close to the window, I leaned outside to see the other condominiums freakishly dancing to the same beat as ours.  I almost leaped outside for the safety of outdoors had my roommate’s voice calling out my name not snapped me into sensibility.  Thank God she had presence of mind to stop me from plunging to a tragic end of my life. 

The third time was fortunately of a funnier nature than the first two.  My husband and I were sleeping on the seventh floor of a beach condo in a spring bed that wasn’t like our immovable memory foam one at home.  His tossing and turning brought my half-asleep self to a time when I lived on a building waking up to a 5.0 earthquake.   Terrified, I jumped up from my bed and yelled out, “IT’S AN EARTHQUAKE! AN EARTHQUAKE!”
“There’s no earthquake, Babe,” his groggy voice said. “Come back to bed.”

When my volcanic heart rate calmed, I realized he was right.  But I can honestly say, I’ve faced the end of my life three times.  And if you count my nightmares, where I’m constantly chased by an axe murderer, a tornado, a tsunami, a war plane, or a big ole dragon… I’ve faced death –or fear-- at least subconsciously my entire life.

But for all those brushes with death, I can’t expect to be unfazed when the moment comes to face my Judge. And despite all my reading of Marian end time prophecies (Akita, Fatima, Betania, Garabandal, Knock, Mejguorje secrets) and shuddering at the prophetic Advent scripture readings, I expect to still be a basket case if Jesus should come in the midst of earthquakes, wars, persecutions, and roaring seas. Obviously, I don't do panic very well.

Our pastor, however, made a valid point during his homily yesterday.  He said there are two possible reactions to Jesus' second coming:  We can either be one of those in Luke 21’s gospel reading as the “people who will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world” or be the people who “stand erect, raising their heads because redemption is at hand.”  

 I have a looong way to go before I can echo the saints welcoming embrace of death.   But I like to hope that my regular examination of conscience and Confession will inch me closer to the elect so that if the big one should come, I’ll just calmly tell my young children to go back to sleep and wait to wake up to a new heavens and a new earth. Then I'll pass out. {Heavy Sigh}  In my dreams.

*Not her real name

1 comment:

8 kids and a business said...

I've experienced 2 minor seismic activities in my life: one in nursing school when all the girls in the dorm were rudely awakened by gently swaying beds and another one a year ago that was barely detected. Until then, I didn't think we had earthquakes in this part of the Canada. Good point about not knowing the day or the hour,but we live in hope and faith that by attempting to live the Gospel, we will be ready when Jesus comes. Blessed Advent, Annabelle!