Friday, February 21, 2014

Three Years On....

Three Years On… Today marks the third anniversary of the Christchurch February earthquake that brought death, pain, and destruction to this city. You could feel the anniversary creeping up on the people of the city. I think a palatable weariness once again descended. Conversations with my friends and even strangers once again turned towards the ‘stories’ of the earthquake. People who have not yet settled there affairs with broken houses, buildings and businesses are once again expressing the distress of the slowness and unfairness of a system that leaves people to struggle on feeling helpless. I sit here, on this hot day, looking out at the beautiful situation that I am in because of the earthquake and ponder on how unfair life really is. The unfairness goes beyond the earthquakes effects on this city. Yesterday I went off early to pick up groceries before I picked up kids from school (who would come home and eat those groceries up this weekend). I stopped first at the fruit market. I’m really into the summer fruit, we will turn around and have only applies, pears and mandarins before we know it. So I load up. I put my purchases up on the counter to be paid for and I am late to notice that the woman in front of me is unpacking nectarines from her plastic bag. It takes a few minutes to register that she is having the bag reweighed over and over and the woman in the counter is telling her how much is owed if she pays what is left. I take my wallet to see if I have change that I can offer, but before I do, the little process is over and the woman has walked away, at least a dozen nectarines behind. I pay for mine, wondering why I didn’t act faster. As I walk out of the story, there is that lady, about my age, loading her purchases into a very nice car. She had a whole shopping cart full. I realise she must have come back to use up her budgeted money. Fair enough and silly me. Then I go on to the grocery store. I go there often. I should be more organized and then I wouldn’t need to go so often. I line up with my small cart full and chat to the check-out lady, whom I’ve chatted to before. She is much older than I. She asks me about my day. I bather on about how nice my day has been, saying, “Oh, I’ve done pretty much just whatever I wanted to do today. And how are you?” “Tired,” comes the answer. She is older than me. She really should be retired. “I just can’t get enough done,” she continues. “By the time I get home, I seem to be out of energy and nobody is going to take care of these jobs except me.” I didn’t know what to say. Why, oh why, did I talk on about my nice day, when a woman was struggling with life right in my realm. We talked on as she checked-out my items and I loaded them in the cart. Just the talk of two people. How the earthquake anniversary added to our tiredness with the memories returning, how life never seemed to let up. I walked to my car wondering what more I should have done. I was pretty certain that she would not have wanted any offer of help. Most women don’t want some acquaintance coming into their home to clean the toilet. I struggle with how to be a better neighbour, and how to give assistance. I stumble, not walk in this area. I just hope that when I don’t offer the help they don’t need it . And I pray that a few minutes of chatting with a check-out lady at my grocery store, offers her just enough friendship and encouragement to get through the day. I please God, help me that the next time I am out in the city, I will be just a little more effective at sharing your love than I was yesterday.

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