Though the mountains shake … though the seas roar… “Be still, and know that I am God!” -Psalm 46 (NRSV)
I experienced my first earthquake when I lived in California.
Y’all. Earthquakes are not in my wheelhouse. I come from land where people move, not the ground. But at 1:05 am that night, as I looked at my sleeping child a few feet away, my house shook. Fifteen seconds later, when everything returned to stillness, my hands were still shaking as I freaked out.
When I shared my discomfort with others, they reminded me: “This is what we sign up for when we live in California.” and “This was a very moderate shake.”
Meanwhile, I couldn’t understand how the rest of them took this so calmly. My house shook. Why would this feel normal?
Perhaps because it is. The earth shakes all the time. Some of us just tend to live on more stable ground and do not perceive the movement.
But for many, ground shifts are a daily reality. This is what it means to be poor, what it means to live without a safety net. What incredible privilege I enjoy to be lulled into the perception that the ground on which I stand is firm.
Well, maybe it is. Maybe that’s what our faith offers us: solid ground in the midst of a shaky earth.
But. Y’all. When our earth rocks, what do we do?
As I ran through the list of what experts recommend we do in an earthquake, I realized that I was already doing the most important thing: holding still. On the floor, just a few feet away from my blissfully sleeping daughter, I returned to the most helpful thing I could do in the safest place I could be during an earthquake: I prayed.
Be still, indeed. In the stillness we know God when we need God most.
God, you are not in the earthquake. But you accompany us through it. Thank you for the ground on which we stand. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.