Sunday, August 28, 2011

Some Things Can Make a Three Legged Stool Shake, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Natural Disasters

As many of you know, in the past week those of us in Northern Virginia have gone through an earthquake, a hurricane and a Greek quiz.  Needless to say things have been busy, hence the delay in posting something about any of it.  

Long story short, I'm fine, as is everyone else on campus, but a few buildings are not.  What looked upon initial inspection to be a very favorable diagnosis did, upon further investigation, turn out to be wrong and the school has a pretty significant amount of structural damage to Aspinwall Hall, Maywood Hall and a professor's house on campus.  Less significant damage was experienced at Key Hall, the Payne Library, Sparrow Hall and on student bookshelves across campus.  Damage from the hurricane seemed to me to be limited to a few trees being down and perhaps a slight exacerbation of the problem at Maywood.  

In any case contributions of reflections on the earthquake were solicited from students for a university publication of some sort, and I offered to write something up.  While what I wrote is a reflection on what we could take away from the earthquake, I'll tell you right now it was pretty frightening.  At the initial jolt I thought perhaps a plane had crashed at nearby Washington National, but the ensuing shaking disabused me of that notion quickly  Though we were all fine, it's not an experience I wish to have again anytime soon.  I'm not gonna write anything more about Irene, I don't believe, because it wasn't much of a storm, and we mostly used it as an excuse to stay in and have a party. That said, it was significantly more powerful elsewhere than it was here, and there has been some loss of life, including in the county where I was raised.  Please keep those who are recovering from both the earthquake and Irene in your thoughts and prayers, and may the souls of those who were lost find their rest. 

In case you are interested, the bit I fired off on the earthquake is posted below.  If I can get any pictures of damage I'll post them here later.  

Stay safe out there, I hear next week is frogs and rivers of blood! 




It is more than a little bit disconcerting to be sitting on the top floor of a building when the earth beneath you begins to move.  Even more unsettling than the movement is the groaning, growling, menacing rumble that comes from the shaking bedrock. It was unexpected, to say the least, and a feeling I hope to never have again.  
Northern Virginia is not exactly a hotbed of seismic activity; the 5.9 earthquake was the strongest Northern Virginia has experienced in over a century.  Though relatively minor as earthquakes go, there was damage both to the seminary and to buildings nearby. The National Cathedral experienced significant damage, and a parish in the Diocese of Virginia was destroyed. We had our nerves put even more on edge as word came that it may be just a foreshock to a larger quake.  This made the afternoon even more challenging for some of the juniors, especially for those with a particular fear of earthquakes, and for those who were in Haiti for that earthquake, but as families were reached and safety was confirmed, relief began to set in for all of us.  
In many ways, this was a perfectly appropriate way for the junior class to begin our time on this Holy Hill.  We learned in the span of a few seconds just how close we had grown in two weeks, and how much we cared for one another.  We learned we will all need to rely on our classmates at times, even if it is just for help down the stairs.  We also learned that we can carry on through adversity, and most importantly, that even while the stones sing out, (or maybe just a wee bit after) we will come together in peace, and give thanks to God.

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