Women of the ELCA

Commentary and reflections on issues, events and trends in our church, society and world, as seen through the lens of our mission and purpose and our ministries.

When you are witnessing the earth being created, remember to stand back in awe for a bit

Posted on April 23, 2010 by Deborah Bogaert

The recent eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland (which I will refer to as “the Iceland volcano” later on because no one, except maybe an Icelander, should have to spell it more than once) has really gotten our attention, hasn’t it? 

“The cost of the Iceland volcanic eruption is growing more enormous by the hour, with airlines facing losses in excess of $200 million per day” was the lead on a story from ABCNews.com.  And now there’s a lot of questioning whether closing all that airspace due to the risk posed by volcanic ash was an overreaction, because someone–other than, of course, “Mother Nature,” who you can’t ask for a bailout–has to take the blame for the financial impact.

The financial costs are real, but is that all we can think about? Don’t get me wrong–I know that real people work for all those airlines, airports, and airport services, and that tens of thousands of people have been stranded around the world not expecting to have to spend a lot more money on hotels and meals. And then there’s the people of Iceland, whose lives will continue to be disrupted for weeks and months.

But here we are witnessing the earth being made, and what are we most focused on? Money.

The photos and video of this eruption have been amazing. Beautiful. Awe-inspiring.

And we are reminded that God’s creation is still creating itself with power that’s hard to comprehend.

I’ve been looking forward for weeks now to a long-anticipated trip to Hawaii. I plan to visit the Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting in varying degrees since 1983, so I’ve been checking the daily updates that track eruption activity. If I get lucky, I’ll see some surface lava flow. But whether I do or not, I will surely stand there near the  Halema`uma`u Crater (another word not to try to spell more than once) and try to imagine the scale of the Iceland volcano eruption: 30-story-tall lava fountains. 3-mile-high ash plumes.  Surface lava in Hawaii would be pretty amazing, but that … hard to grasp, isn’t it?

So when the earth reminds us of its creative power without there being a true human cost (like the earthquake in Haiti), and when we can almost walk right up to it as I hope to do next month, we are invited, I think, to just stand back in amazement for a while. It’s not every day you get to see creation itself happening.


Deborah Bogaert is content manager of Women of the ELCA’s website and editor of the organization’s newsletters and program resources.

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