For exhausted Cantabrians, the various words expressed from around the country over the past year have had a hollow ring.
There is little that can be said to sum up just what last year’s earthquake has done to Canterbury and to our country as a whole.
There is a gap now between the city that once existed and a difficult present day—a present that has a temporary quality to it, as Cantabrians wait for more destruction to come or for life to finally settle.
A year on, it is also clear that alongside the destruction, remarkable things have taken place. They can be summed up in one word, namely ‘hope.’
It was the hope that people could be found alive that spurred on rescuers for days.
It is hope that allows people to live ‘in the meantime,’ making beauty and extending love as the city continues to try to find its feet.
One project, “Gap filler,” temporarily uses vacant sites, the scenes of destruction, as places to generate beauty and life. A cinema has been temporarily established in the city, powered by bicycle riders.
Other vacant lots are used for community art projects, while people carry out their daily tasks, supporting one another with a new resolve. These acts testify to the possibility of life continuing, despite hard circumstances.
The rest of the country looks at Christchurch with a mixture of sorrow and deep admiration. Tough decisions are being made, and tougher ones will be made in the future.
Meanwhile, life continues and the holes and gaps are being filled.
They are not erased but filled with love and beauty.
In the midst of continuing difficulty, Christchurch is literally a city being built by hope.
We stand in admiration.