At the beach this morning I thought of those 300 shattered lives. I set out to gather 300 shells, one for each of them, sending prayers as I worked. But 100 was as many as I could manage. Each shell fragment represents not just a life lost, but the grieving families and friends.
100 is a lot to handle. I placed them in this memorial arch, imagining the number multiplied by 3 and filling the space.
As I worked, two women leaned over a railing above the beach. One was a friend. She was accompanied by a Christchurch woman, who staying in Auckland when the quake struck. She has no way of knowing whether her home is still intact. Last year she suffered her own traumatic loss of a family member. When she saw what I was doing, she asked if she could add a shell of her own. So there it is, in the corner, reminding us that tragedy can strike in single, isolated incidents as well as devastating mass events.
Today the newspaper is including photos of some of those who died. I managed to pick up another fifty shells, aware of each one as a person who was alive and well a few days ago, and then I could do no more.
May all those souls find release and peace. May everyone find the strength they need to restore order and faith in life.