Tragedy in Japan, devastation in NZ… and resplendent Spring.

Maybe it’s because I just got back from Rome and I’m leaving on Saturday for Guatemala, but I’m feeling particularly globally aware — and heartbroken by the horrific events in New Zealand and Japan: one place I’ve been & loved, the other I’ve simply admired from a distance. On February 22, in the midst of a shopping day, a shallow 6.3 earthquake rattled beneath the city of Christchurch, New Zealand – destroying one-third of the tidy city’s buildings and killing over 200 of its proud and plucky citizens.

17 days later, fifteen miles below the sea floor, the Pacific tectonic plate slammed under the North American plate, creating a rupture 183 miles long and 93 miles wide – about the size of my home state of Delaware. The massive shifting of tectonic plates caused Japan to lurch 13 feet closer to North America, sunk the island by 2 feet, and set off a tsunami that wiped out entire towns and villages. The death toll in Japan is estimated to reach 10,000, and these polite, restrained people are left reeling in grief…and nuclear radiation.

AP Photo/Yomiuri Shimbun, Hiroaki Ono

This was the world’s 5th largest earthquake, of 8.9 magnitude, and plenty more are predicted in the coming years along the volcanic Pacific Ring of Fire–and along our own West Coast.

The tsunami of March 11.

Maybe I’m paranoid, but the earth seems to be turning against us, and it’s hard to blame her. We’ve hardly been good stewards of the planet, fouling it with pollution and killing off most of our fellow earthly inhabitants.

It makes me think of a dog beset by fleas, flicking his skin to rid himself of the irritating pests – perhaps we’re just getting flicked off with earthquakes, snowstorms, tornadoes and droughts before we can ruin the whole place.

On the other hand, it’s glorious spring here in Atlanta – and it’s hard not to be dazzled by the performance. And to feel that somehow we might redeem ourselves with compassionate action — and prove worthy of this fervently lovely earth.

In that spirit,  I’m sending off a contribution to World Vision, who is on the ground in Japan and helping to rebuild – and leaving you with one of my favorite poems from e.e. cummings:

O sweet spontaneous

earth  how often have



fingers of

prurient philosophers pinched




, has the naughty thumb

of science prodded


beauty    . how

often have religions taken

thee upon their scraggy knees

squeezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive




to the incomparable

couch of death thy



thou answerest

them only with



p.s. Rome was great, Lulu was darling, and I gained about 10 pounds –pronto!