As the room buzzed around her, my friend S sat on the floor rocking the infant in her arms, silently praying over the tiny baby boy.
Just 20 days old and already fatherless. His twin sister, too.
His father didn’t make it out of the shop where he was drinking tea when the earthquake shook Ercis (pronounced Er-jeesh), Turkey on a Sunday afternoon in October.
His father’s brother, however, took a dive toward the door of his pizza place when the shaking started, and 10 hours later, rescuers found his fingers sticking out and pulled him alive from the rubble.
It came down to seconds. Feet.
We felt small aftershocks over the five days we were in nearby Van, Turkey. Eerie. Unsettling. Kind of cool, to be honest. But any shred of coolness went away when I got an e-mail from my mom as my plane landed in England.
“Where are you? just heard that Turkey had a new earthquake…..is it where the other was?”
Still in my plane seat waiting on the aisle to clear out, I quickly looked it up on BBC.
“Turkish earthquake topples hotel: An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.7 has struck near the city of Van in eastern Turkey, destroying as many as 20 buildings including a six-storey hotel. Many of those trapped in the building were aid workers and journalists there because of the earthquake in the region last month, which killed more than 500 people.”
It didn’t take long for the implications of that to sink in.
It wasn’t until later that night I learned that it wasn’t our hotel. And I don’t want to over-dramatize it. It’s highly likely that if we had been in Van one more day, we would have been just fine, albeit shaken. Someone made the comment, “That was God’s perfect timing.”
God’s timing is perfect. But it would have been just as perfect if we’d come up on the short end of the stick of time and location in Turkey. His love would’ve been just as perfect, His justice just as perfect. The world groans with the pain of the curse placed on it in the beginning, and every extra minute we get is only by His mercy.
So now … as I walk today in that mercy … I think of that baby. That fatherless little boy and his sister.
By God’s grace, they’ve lived through two earthquakes in their short lifespan … I hope. The news of the second quake dropped off BBC’s radar while dozens were still trapped under the rubble and before full reports of the damage had made it in. Things like Occupy Wall Street … the Penn State scandal … the Herman Cain discussion … these have effortlessly pushed eastern Turkey not only out of the headlines but out of the news altogether.
But I can’t forget them. Those babies … who is going to go to them? Who is going to introduce them to the One who is the Father to the fatherless?
It keeps me up at night.
(If you’re interested in helping the folks who are helping these families, gobgr.org is a great place to start.)