Monday, November 11, 2013

Thankful For Earthquakes and Supercyclones

When supercyclone “Haiyan” was poised to whip at the Philippines, I joined my countrymen in prayer, every hour on the hour.  I sighed with blessed relief when my sister reported that although power had gone out, my hometown of Cebu City (which had just been rocked by a 7.4 magnitude quake) escaped the eye of the storm and didn’t sustain much damage.  But over the next few days, as more photos and news reports emerged of severe destruction, missing persons, unknown casualties and downed communications and transportations north of my province and its neighboring islands, my sighs were snuffled into tissues.

A ship washed into a leveled shore of a once bustling port; coconut trees shaven or snapped in two; a looted half of a mall building teetering; a roofless hospital; entire towns and villages  pulverized into debris; paper plates and pieces torn from the boxes containing messages of survivors to their anxious family members that “we are all alive” or “so and so is dead”; survivors sagging on  evacuation centers, one of which was a grown man, with a distinct brown scapular around his neck, crying…  and the most heartbreaking of all: a muddied corpse of a mother clutching her dead boy and her baby. 

Along with the distressing images, my Facebook page  has been flooded with information on how to help and help speedily on its way. Packed bags of relief goods, donation centers set up, money coming in, my teenage nephews helping build homes, medicines arriving with volunteer doctors from California, Canada and Israel, US. Marines deployed, Japanese rescue teams, and local corporate businesses and news reporters doing their primary job of being compassionate human beings.  

From my human Christian perspective, I easily glimpsed the hope that comes with the cross. But since I wanted to look beyond hope into joy, I tried to see from the perspective beyond the veil…  I saw the delight of a Heavenly Father welcoming a mother and her two sons to heaven for her heroic virtue in attempting to rescue them.  I saw countless more souls ecstatically reunited with loved ones in heaven while other souls entered purgatory.  All of them have joined the multitude of saints who are incessantly praying for loved ones still earning salvation on earth.  I saw a Church crammed with praying Christians, grateful yet seeking consolation and burning to help others.  Without them knowing it, their charity earns merits and atones for a multitude of past sins. I saw heaven busy answering every single prayer, sending angels, as well as invisible graces of healing and comfort and visible relief goods that were shared from kind hearts.  I saw Our Lady of Sorrows tenderly gathering millions of survivor's teardrops and uniting them with her son's sorrow to obtain graces of conversion for the hardest of sinners.  I saw human hearts all over the world softening to give from their needs; politicians rethinking policies and keeping their hands off the coffers; homes opened to welcome survivors.  I saw a grieving widower-father being consoled by the generosity of strangers who help him rebuild, and in my author’s tendency to create happy endings, I saw in the future, him growing into a wise man embracing life, serving a new family in a deeper way. Or perhaps, joining the priesthood.

 The world as we Filipinos know it has ended, but the world as God sees it has shifted toward goodness, love, mercy and change.  Through our acceptance of the purifying cross, Christ’s kingdom is here and it is also coming.
Please join me.
Naturally, I’ve been asked: am I still going home to my  earthquake-ravaged and sypercylcone-whipped country like I'd planned to for the holidays?  Oh yes!  You wouldn’t dream of abandoning your sick and suffering family in the midst of their darkest trial, would you? No.  You would go home and hug your loved ones, support the local tourism economy, constantly remind yourself that you’re not guaranteed 90 years to do God’s work on earth.  You’d take your children to the grocery store so they can pick out items from someone’s survival list to be given to donation centers and teach them to forego their own Christmas wishlist.

On Thanksgiving, you might not exactly be grateful for earthquakes and supercyclones even though 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says, "In everything give thanks to the Lord for this is God's will for you." But you will surely be thankful for the light of eternity and the grace of your faith to understand: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”



Heidi said...

Thank you for this post Anabelle. You bring to mind Philippians 4: 4-9. Which begins with:
"Rejoice in the Lord always, I say again rejoice!. Your kindness should be known to all, the Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus..."

Again, thanks for this!

God bless!

Nancy Shuman said...

Anabelle, you have been on my mind and in the prayers of my heart as the news reports have come along. I continue to pray.

Anabelle Hazard said...

Heidi, I love that scripture! I want to rejoice but it is hard. Peace is what I aim for.

Nancy, thank you for your prayers. I know you have clout up there so it is helping very much.

Heidi said...

I am praying for peace for you Anabelle!! God bless! I am sure that Paul does not necessarily mean that you must "feel" rejoicing in these situations, only that you are confidant in God's power to dry every tear and to make all things new! Your beautiful words give hope and an eternal perspective,guarding hearts from despair.

I join Nancy in prayer for you, and for all who are suffering so much right now (I am pretty sure she has more clout,but I will put in my two coins as well). Grace and Peace to you.

8 kids and a business said...

Thank God your family is safe, Annabelle. I was wondering if your family was affected. I emailed Pauline ( and she said that in Manila they felt some strong winds but no real damage. I don't have family left that I'm in touch in the Philippines but I wrote something about the typhoon, too. It comes out on Tuesday on my blog and at Catholic Insight. Have you heard about the novena for the Philippines that starts today until the 19th? Thank you for this post.

Anabelle Hazard said...

Heidi, thank you for that insightful clarification. sometimes we emotional folks can take St. Paul's words literally. I'll send the memo out to my feelings that it can wait to be happy in eternity. Boy, I'd love to do scripture study with you.

Terry, Thanks for the heads up on the novena. Definitely joining. cant wait to read your post. While I don't know anyone affected, I have many friends and family who know friends and family that are still missing.

Gina said...

The Philippines are so drenched in prayer right now... oh my heart. How I wish I could hug those people to me - each and every one. How I wish could welcome them all into my home, give them warm baths, warm food, a place to sleep.

Oh my heart weeps for them, but as you said, from beyond the veil, so much joy is to be had. So much happiness and blessed reunions are to be enjoyed.

You, too, are in my prayers given how close this hits for you, Anabelle.

Peace and blessings upon you and your family (near and far).


Anabelle Hazard said...

Gina you have such a big heart. I already knew that but just in case you didn't, now you do. Thanks for your prayers.