Cursing in the dark

There was an earthquake last night, while I was asleep. 4.7, but the epicenter was far to the east, so it was less than that here.

But it was strong enough to wake me up.

Tarnation! I murmured to myself. Who in the blue blazes is in here shaking my bed, and why, since I am supposed to be alone in this here house?!

(Note: At such times, Christians are at a decided disadvantage, lacking a rich vocabulary of epithets with the proper heft and gravitas for the moment, but yet tame enough to use in the middle of Sunday School. I fall back on a rich vocabulary I learned as a child from Festus Haggen, the irascible deputy from Gunsmoke, and it has served me well.)

It made no sense, but I was sure someone was gently shaking the bed to wake me up. I was slightly annoyed. It was close to midnight, after all, and the proper time to consult about misbehaving hard drives is in the daylight!

But once I was awake enough to realize the earth was moving, my mind slowly shifted gears.

Well I’ll be a three-legged mule! It ain’t no midnight scalawag tryin’ to interrupt my dreams. It’s an earthquake! Now, do I sprint for the nearest door frame, or just go back to sleep?

In the dark, I could hear some very light things falling, like chips of plaster from the ceiling.

But the shaking was gentle enough that I wasn’t concerned, so I opted to stay in my warm bed and wait it out. And by the time I had finished processing all of these things, the earth was quiet again.

If there’s ever a need for split-second decision making, it isn’t going to happen just after I wake up from a sound sleep. At such times, I barely know who and where I am. I’m a deep sleeper, and it takes hours in the morning for me to feel alert. I know people who wake up in the morning ready to solve quadratic equations. I wake up and can’t remember which end of the pencil to write with.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a truly wonderful post about some of the spiritual connections I had drawn from another, stronger earthquake. I called it Political Tremors. It’s about change, and things that never change.

But for the moment, I’m not thinking any deep thoughts. It’s 6:30 in the morning and my brain is barely functioning. Except for a few braying burros, the neighborhood is quiet and the sky is still gray. I need a cup of hot tea. Good morning from Oaxaca.

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  1. Charlie, I kinda chuckled at your earthquake story because I had a similar experience when I lived in the Puget Sound area. I was sitting on my bed with my dog lying at the foot when it began shaking. I thought it was caused by my dog scratching. Fifteen seconds later it was still shaking so I looked at the dog who was still sleeping. By the time I figured out what was going on the shaking stopped. I’ve been through three earthquakes since then, all in the Philippines. It’s quite a neat experience as long as they aren’t too strong.