Tall buildings swayed slightly in Geneva, slight tremors were felt in Lausanne. Sensing the sudden instability of the solid earth, people felt a clutch of apprehension in Yugoslavia. It was in northern Italy that several hundreds of people went to bed in their homes for the last time, dying under debris as the earth shifted and buildings fell, while others waited in pain to be released.
For some, exposure to that earthquake in Italy was simply a matter of an interrupted radio program: for a moment the news of tragedy took the place of music. The listener heard about villages unknown to him. Persons who so short a time before had been full of the joy, sorrow, excitement, boredom, weariness, fear, and hope of human life became just a number. “The death toll has risen to 240. More bodies are expected to be found as the search continues.” The news voice fades out. There is music again.
Mountains and rocks, earth and trees, seas and shores—such comfortingly stable surroundings, day in, day out! We walk along our usual paths and find familiar landmarks a reassuring continuity in life. I wonder how often Elijah had stood on “the mount” to think, to pray. When the word of the Lord came to tell him to stand upon that mountain, it must have been a familiar place.
But what a terrifying and awesome sight it must have been to stand there alone and feel and see the great, strong wind, which would have moaned and whistled with terrific force. Elijah must have felt he was going to be blown over as this wind split the mountains and broke rocks as if gigantic sledgehammers were tearing them apart. After this wind Elijah felt the earth shift and move, because he stood there through an earthquake. And after the earthquake, a fire swept through ...1
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