fragility. chins up.

Written by Leslie Rowe

Owner/writer at Penn State alum. Religious views: for. Political views: against.

March 11, 2011

I usually read the news every morning, but today I was rushed and skipped it. Then during a break at work, I sneaked a peak at Facebook.

Praying for Japan said a friend’s post.

Nice of her, I thought. Wait. Maybe something happened in Japan? I didn’t mean to live under a rock but this was the first I’d heard.

Google News search results…8.9 earthquake, devastation, loss, tsunami, Charlie Sheen (oh please), Hawaii, more tsunami…

Hawaii?  My brother lives on Kauai! Is he okay? Did the tsunami hit or is it coming? What happened? IS HE OKAY????

For a few seconds I imagine my brother at best frantically working on wounded people at Wilcox Memorial’s operating room where he works, and at worst…at worst…I cannot imagine him gone.


It didn’t take long to find out—we texted, he posted his “we’re okay” status on Facebook, and my personal world is unshaken, for now. While Japan reels and her people agonize, I grab a coffee and go back to work.

Funny how as long as my personal world is unshaken, I can go on about my business.

But wait. Her people are agonizing.

I imagine a Japanese family. I imagine that he is at work and she is at home caring for her elderly parents. The children are at school. I imagine the world crashes in, and there is raging water and a roar and the angry jazz of electricity touching liquid as the power goes out and then silence and chaos and rubble where her house once stood. And he tries to call her but the lines are dead. And the children are crying as the teacher tries to gather them amidst the debris of toppled shelves and caved-in walls.


We are a fragile species, us humans. And somehow we are all connected. Sister Japan, I am so, so sorry for your losses.

After that horrendous December tsunami several years ago that took so many lives, I came across Luke 21:25 (NIV): “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.”

Anguish and perplexity. That’s today’s news in Japan.

So God knew it was coming. Usually the God-themes that swirl about my subconscious are those of love, mercy, forgiveness, grace…you know, the happy thoughts. The “whatsoever is good, think on these things” themes. But on the other side of the lion/lamb paradigm, the mysteries of God are fierce and mind-boggling, and humans live in great fragility at his greater mercy. And in that Luke 21 scripture reference, we continue to read:

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

So as we reflect on our fragility and the suffering of our brothers, let’s do so with compassion, prayer, and chins up. It can’t be long, now.  Somebody’s coming.


  1. Doug

    Praying for Japan. Yes, when our personal world is not impacted it is hard to grasp…Thanks for the article.

    • @bibledude

      great observation here about how we tend to minimize the impact of tragedy (like in #Japan) when it doesn’t directly impact us. joining you in prayer…

      thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  2. melissa

    A smart and beautifully written message.
    Thank you for sharing the thoughts of your heart.

    • @bibledude

      i totally agree melissa! i think that leslie is an amazing writer, and i’m glad that she contributed this post here. thank YOU for stopping by and sharing this feedback! I think that I’ll have Leslie contribute here more often!

  3. @bibledude

    this post not only makes me think and #prayforjapan, but it also forces me to take a look at myself and how i tend to minimize the impact of tragedy when it doesn’t directly impact me. in some ways i feel kinda self-centered, but more than anything else i feel moved by compassion for others.

    thank you for a beautiful post leslie!

  4. Brenda Coats

    I love this. I, too, was out of the loop, living under a rock when it happened. I was convicted to be more aware of those around me once I read about it.


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fragility. chins up.

by Leslie Rowe time to read: 3 min