I actually already had a post written and scheduled for this week (way ahead of time, for once), but I think I’ll bump that to next week, because I want to talk about something else.
A little bit of background on what I’m talking about: I live in New Zealand, in the lower North Island. In the South Island, there’s a city called Christchurch. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because there was a very large earthquake there in February 2011, not long before the Japanese earthquake. The earthquake killed 185 people and basically caused a whole lot of ruin in the city. Whole buildings collapsed, and others were discovered to be unstable.
From very early on Friday until yesterday evening, I attended a Girls’ Brigade conference in a small town that’s an hour south of Christchurch. Yesterday, we had the choice of sitting around for an hour, or driving to the airport early. We settled on something in the middle: leaving for the airport early, but taking a tiki tour around Christchurch, to look at all the rubble and the progress. (Tiki tour = going from one place to another along a longer route, either intentionally, like our trip through Christchurch, or unintentionally, like if you make a wrong turn.)
So we drove around Christchurch for an hour. And that’s what I want to talk about.
Different parts of the city are in different stages in the repair process. Some buildings and areas have been fixed, or weren’t damaged to begin with. Others are in various stages of reconstruction and repair, with scaffolding and temporary solutions. There are some empty lots, either because they haven’t begun to rebuild there, or they’re not going to. And, probably the saddest of all, there’s some buildings just sitting there, waiting to be demolished.
All around the city, you can find memorials for those who lost their lives. Some special steps have been placed. One of the lots, which previously had a building where many people died, is being left empty as a memorial. The city hasn’t forgotten. There are reminders everywhere.
But they aren’t being held back by grief. They are building. Repairing. Moving on. Letting the future happen. They’re acknowledging the past, and working hard to make a better future.
And, in amongst it all, there is beauty. A gorgeous playground which was installed recently, covered in children playing. Filled with laughter. There’s walls that have been decorated with the most beautiful graffiti. The drab, depressing streets have been brightened by these colourful works of art.
Seeing these things has made me realize some things about the challenges that we face in life.
The first is that it is important to acknowledge the hardships and the bad times. Just because they are in the past, it doesn’t mean that we should forget about them.
The second is that we can move on from these hardships, and use them to make us stronger. It may take a lot of work, but it will be worth it in the end.
And finally, it is important to find the beauty in the broken. If there is no beauty, then make some. A little splash of beauty can have a huge impact. Find joy in the midst of strife.
Thank you, Christchurch, for teaching me so much through your hardships.