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Living with Unintended Consequence.

By Trish Patrick in All Sorts

reflections on where is God in the devastations of the floods

Living with Unintended Consequence.
With horror I have watched on television, the utter devastation the flooding has wreaked mainly in the North Island, to a lesser extent in the South. What a catastrophe!!! Some lost their lives in the raging waters, whole communities decimated and families left, not just homeless, but short on answers re their future. A truly life shattering event. No wonder the people are feeling helpless, marooned in a sea of mud and slash with barely a vestige of their past lives to cling to as a symbol of hope. Government and Insurance companies desperately trying to find some kind of solution to help people re-build and retrieve their lives. At the same time, trying to fathom out how to mitigate catastrophes which will undoubtedly happen in the not too distant future. Everyone has an opinion and everyone wants action yesterday! Understandably!! People are growing weary and frustrated with the time it is taking to get answers, not to mention action. If I were in that situation, I too would be equally angry, frustrated and stressed to the 'max'.
I don’t envy the government, any government in this dilemma. They will be 'damned if they do, and damned if they don't.... no matter what party happens to be in power. Criticism is all too easy when watching from the sidelines, without responsibility and the full picture. It's going to take years to remediate this ghastly situation. As far as the upcoming elections go, the politicians would need to be very, very cautious about what they wish for. It could well turn out to be more than any of them bargained for.
In the meantime, the flood victims watch and wait. Clearing up what is possible; backbreaking, soul-destroying work. The social implications of such an event are far-reaching and the people involved will bear the scars for their lifetimes. People are living with the unintended consequences of 'out of control' human activity. Hope must, for many, seem futile.
As people of faith, how do we respond to this terrible event? There was no ark for these people to shelter in, no time to notice any rainbow which may have arched across leaden skies, a symbol that God would henceforth not cause such complete devastation. No doves or ravens to herald the healing of drowned pasture and a re-imagined landscape.
We have, however, had many warnings that this could happen. Warnings which we, in our wisdom have at worst totally ignored, at best, made a token effort to try and change how we manage the land and its resources. God, it seems, is powerless in the face of such hubris.
So where was God in all this devastation? Wouldn't it have been better if it hadn't happened at all!!
I do not believe for one moment that this is a punishment sent from on high to get our attention, although it surely has!! Rather it is a consequence largely borne of human arrogance. We have done much plundering of our resources with little thought to what the outcome might be down the track. Now we are finding out what that outcome can be.
Whoever or whatever you perceive the creating spirit to be, it is ever present in the form of the people who risked life and limb to rescue those in danger of flood water and slip. In the people who so willingly provided nourishment and shelter for those whose homes have been demolished. The creative spirit is in all these loving acts of kindness, no matter how seemingly insignificant or dramatic. It is present in people who labour to bring healing to the earth.
Of course it would have been better if it hadn't happened, but it did. It's a 'wake up' call from a tortured earth. We must surely pay heed to this warning and realise that 'having dominion over', is not a license to continue plundering our planet. The creative spirit which nourishes and cares for all, invites us to be participants in the healing of the earth.
That is our hope, the symbol of which is the rainbow, an overarching embrace of the divine, calling us to healing, and wholeness and new birth, without which the future is indeed bleak.
Colin Gibson expresses this hope beautifully in his hymn ' Come to our Land' .....
... Come to our land, come to our hearts Spirit of life, breath of new birth,
teach us to care, for water and air, nourish the seed and cherish the earth.
And all our people will sing together; Wairua Tapu, holy your name, there's one great spirit in all creation, one great spirit of God!..
Trish Patrick