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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Minute(s) (as in time) (03/03/11)

TITLE: My Shattered City
By Debbie Roome


One minute.

That’s all it took to shatter my city.

It was an average day, people going about their normal daily business: children at school, friends meeting for lunch, coffee shops crowded, streets busy, buskers entertaining.

Then it started; a rumble and a shake as the earth flexed its muscles. People stopped and looked at each other. Was it just a tremor?

The answer came as the motion accelerated violently, vibrating and shaking. Screams split the air, punctuating the roar of falling bricks and crashing concrete. Homes broke in two, buildings collapsed, towers teetered and dust filled lungs. As the shaking continued, liquefaction erupted, silt burst to the surface and murky rivers flooded streets. Pipes twisted, roads cracked, tarmac distorted and paving sunk. High above the suburbs, cliff faces cracked and boulders tumbled, crushing, destroying.

Oh God, where are You? How can this be happening?

For a terrible moment the city froze, 400,000 people in shocked limbo. Then terror unleashed itself. Alarms shrieked, buildings groaned, people wailed, scrabbling at rubble where loved ones had stood a moment earlier. The injured limped to open areas, blood streaming, features twisted in pain.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

In the space of a minute, our lives were irrevocably changed. Landscapes shifted, hills rose, buildings fell, dreams shattered. A violent monster wreaked havoc in our midst. Images of devastation and death were seared into minds and brutal loss was burned in our hearts forever.

After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

One minute:
200 dead
Countless injured
100,000 homes damaged
10,000 homes destroyed
Infrastructures shattered
One third of the CBD ruined
Towers toppled
Famous icons broken
Businesses gone
Schools annihilated
Security lost

The city is left in ruins, its gate is battered to pieces ... the earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is violently shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard.

Oh Lord, our hearts are broken at this terrible thing that has befallen our city. Memories are woven amongst the ruins of places where we worked ... and worshiped ... and played. Many of these places have become tombs and remind us that loved ones no longer stand by our sides. The loss of so many lives – people of every age, people from many nations - has brought us to our knees. Have mercy on us as we mourn as a nation, as we join hands with each other, our humanity binding us together. Remind us that this too shall pass ... and give us courage and hope as we rise up and rebuild.

And the Lord whispered and said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

One minute.

That’s all it took.


All scriptures from NIV
Psalm 46:1-2
1 Kings 19:11-12
Isaiah 24:12, 19-20

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This article has been read 886 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Bonnie Bowden 03/11/11
Earthquakes are devastating to so many people. The earthquake that just shook Japan really demonstrates that reality.

I liked the scripture you used.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/12/11
This is a very well written article. The Scripture verses are so appropriate here.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/15/11
Wow! The tears and prayers were instantaneous as I read this.
Rachel Phelps03/15/11
Heartwrenching and beautifully crafted. Excellent. Thank you for sharing.
Lillian Rhoades 03/17/11
Congratulations for your win!
In light of current events, thanks for reminding us of where I hope lies.
Margaret Kearley 03/17/11
This is heartbreaking to read and must have been heartbreaking to write as your wonderful country continues to suffer from the recent quakes. Congratulations on your well deserved placing for such wonderful writing. With our love and prayers. Margaret
Amanda Brogan03/24/11
A city on its knees -- sometimes God uses horrific events to turn a people's heart back to Himself. Heart-shattering, but beautifully portrayed truth in this piece.

Big congrats on your win! (Even though I'm late in commenting.)
Lois Farrow03/26/11
Beautifully written, Debbie