in november-december 2004 the philippines was hit with 2 typhoons that devasted many parts of rural luzon, particularly those communities located along the eastern coast of the island of luzon (facing the pacific ocean). one of these communities is real, quezon.
the major problem was not the wind, as one would expect from a typhoon. the problem was the rain. so much rain fell that massive landslides occurred. adding to the problem was that fact that there had been too much logging done in the mountains, thereby removing any tree cover that slopes might have needed. many cut logs were still lying on the mountains, ready to be taken to the sawmill. the result? the logs slid down the mountains in the landslides and destroyed whole communities.
the devasation was tremendous. the death toll was high. i am sure many faces were turned toward heaven shouting, ‘why god? why have we been cursed?’
so many logs were swept out to sea that helecopter pilots flying over the area said they resembled spilt matches.
a week later the people living in on patnanungan island, about 40 miles east of real, were awakened to shouts of joy. ‘come to the sea, look at what god has brought us!’ everyone ran down to the shore and began to claim their blessings. taking rope, they tied their family mark onto what the tide had brought in.
logs. many logs. many many logs were scattered on the shoreline. the people were so happy. now they woule be able to build houses, boats, and other needed things. god was good to them. i am sure many faces were turned toward heaven shouting, ‘thank you lord for all the blessings you have given us.’
of course, you have figured it out by now. the logs that had been so devastating one week — destroying houses and people — were the same logs that brought such hope to the people of patnanungan.
how can such a tragedy be at the same time such a joy?
perhaps the ways of god are harder to figure out than i thought.