Yesterday my home town was devastated by an earthquake. 75 people have been confirmed dead. The CBD is destroyed.
All the while, I watch this on TV here in Newcastle, Australia.
I have never felt so helpless, sick, restless and homesick. There is no way I can understand what my friends and family are going through. There is nothing I can do to help them.
Like many, it was the sight of the Cathedral in rubble that bought the whole thing home. The Cathedral is the centre of the city, physically and spiritually. Christchurch is a predominantly Anglican city, and the Cathedral is right in the centre. It would be hard to live in Christchurch and not have a story or an incident that involves the Cathedral.
As a non-Christian, I used to go to the Cathedral on Friday evenings while on my dinner break from work. I used to sit and listen to the choir as they rehearsed.
The cathedral was the place of my conversion, sort of. It was while watching Midnight Mass at Christchurch Cathedral on Christmas Eve on the telly that I first became a Christian. It was at the cathedral that I had first received Holy Communion. It was at the cathedral that I first prayed.
I was talking with a friend last week about how it was my wish that when I am ordained a priest (God willing) that it might be possible to have the ceremony in Christchurch Cathedral. The chances of this were always remote, but it was a hope.
All of this seems quite pathetic and selfish now. As I sit here and watch the news, read facebook updates on how everyone is, and wonder about those we haven't heard from, my interests and hopes have become insignificant and feel wrong.
I have no understanding of how awful it must be for everyone.