Christchurch is still reeling, as is the rest of the country who watch on helplessly.
It seems that there is not much more to say. People have died. Images of memorial services across the country and even the world have flickered over our screens and we have been amazed at the concern and grief expressed throughout the globe.
Once again, it seems that the world is weak and we are unsure what to do to bandage it together. Building things seems like a gamble now; Christchurch, like a knocked-down Lego set.
There are so many obituaries and funerals to be held; and in the midst of it all, we are reminded of some precious truths. Life is more valuable than we can say, and the capacity of a community to care for each other when the stripes are down, is greater than we tend to imagine.
Strangers across the country have become dearly beloved to one another, as people have gathered to help bucket away water, to shelter in shared buildings, to sweep and clean and to care for one another’s children.
When the limits of our lives and the limits of our control strike us, not much more matters. The rest feels like details.
Prime Minister John Key expressed this sentiment when he said, “In the end, buildings are just buildings, roads are just roads, but people are irreplaceable. Today, all New Zealanders grieve for you.”
At the end of the day, regardless of factions and politics, we care desperately about each other. All our leaders, including political, community and religious, have echoed this perspective.
Their words have articulated what we have all felt. We need to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Christchurch and with one another.
And that solidarity has been beautifully expressed. It does not undo anything.
It does not bring back lives or stop the pain, but it does bring courage.
Our Prime Minister urged us to remember, “No act of kindness is too small.”
And he pointed us in the direction of practical care saying, “right now, you can help by offering support to friends and family who are hurting. Offer them a bed or a roof over their head if that is what they need.”
Many have taken up this call. Strangers are washing in one another’s bathrooms or shovelling silt from one another’s homes. In doing so, Christchurch and all who have offered their help, have resisted letting this tragedy escalate into an even bigger disaster.
They have brought comfort, hope, and grief where even more isolation and pain was possible. This is no small thing. This is community at its most remarkable.