The building was making that groaning noise a building makes when its under stress. The bed was shaking, a cupboard door swung open and the inside light came on. The pipes were knocking together and the crystals on the chandelier in the living room making that tinkling sound that at 3:30 in the morning looses all sweetness and becomes just ominous. It was an earthquake. It went on for over a minute but seem longer; the repeat 45 minutes later was less intense and shorter. Maybe an hour later there was one more prolonged shudder.
We've experienced earthquakes before so we knew what was happening. In Mexico City they were, on a small scale, an almost daily occurrence; in Ottawa (yes Ottawa sits on a fault line, who would have thought?) there are maybe one or two a year; and a few Christmases past in Hong Kong we had three resounding tremors inside of a half hour.
This morning was upsetting and it was hard to get back to sleep but for us that is really all that was disturbed: our sleep. For many others in the region around L'Aquila this morning more than their sleep has been disturbed - their homes have been destroyed or worse their loved ones lay in morgues or beneath rubble. We had never made it up to L'Aquila - it was one of those charming medieval hillside towns that dot Umbria. It had a cathedral that Michelin assured us was "worth the detour" and several restaurants that friends recommended. It was on the list of places to visit in the next few years. For us a weekend destination has been devastated but for the people of the region it is their lives that have suffered devastation. Fortunately aid is coming in from around the world and Italians are proving once again that they come through in a crisis.
Should you, at some point today, be saying a few words to who ever you pray to, or just be remembering people in your thoughts I ask that you include the people of L'Aquila and those who are moving in to help them in those prayers and thoughts.
06 aprile - Beata Michele Rua