The Rev. Casey dunsworth

serves as Associate Campus Pastor to the Belfry, the Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry to UC Davis

and as Program Director for LEVN, the Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network.


Last night, I planned to spend my evening catching up on some reading before going to bed early and getting up early for class. I casually flipped on CNN around 10:30pm, and was glued until almost 1:00am.   I watched as a recorded AC360 report on Libya switched to CNN International to footage of the quake, mere minutes after it had happened, followed by live footage of the aftershocks, and eventually the tsunami.

I had no idea how terrifying live footage of devastation like that could be. Yeah, I've watched live footage of San Diego wildfires. And I've watched live footage of tornadoes. And I watched people gunned down in Bahrain last month. In fact, I watched, live, as the second plane hit the World Trade Center. I have seen devastation live on television.  But that doesn't diminish the intensity of how it felt to watch that water pull houses and cars across the countryside, enveloping lives and livelihoods as it went.

[EDIT 3/12: In talking with Kelsey about this feeling yesterday afternoon, I was able to articulate much better why watching tsunami, in particular, is so painful. I've probably mentioned before that my love for the ocean is as vast as, well, the ocean. For me, the beach is a spiritual place, a peaceful place, and even a sort of refuge. To watch the entity for which I have deep love, awe, and emotional connection play a significant role in such devastation just...hurts. Kelsey is Coloradan, and has a parallel love for the mountains. Recently, a friend of hers was killed in an avalanche. It's this same principle. The natural world we know and love has the capacity to take as much as it gives.]

The most awful thing I saw was a video of some people in a department store, I think. The footage showed racks of clothing shaking, mannequins toppling over, nothing particularly devastating. But what struck me was the two people standing next to the escalator, embracing. They knew. They knew that this big of an earthquake meant major damage. They knew it meant tsunami. They knew.

The aftermath of this catastrophe is not even over. It's the middle of the night, still, in Japan -- about 4:00am as I'm writing this -- and we've yet to see just how much damage has been done. Japan is underwater, and on fire, and broken. All at once.

Do what you need to do. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10. Pick your favorite aid organization and volunteer your time or energy. If you have family or friends in the affected regions, make sure they're safe. If you're the praying kind, pray. Pray hard. This is only the beginning.

A Lenten letter

How did it come to this?