In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy talks about the devastation in Japan following the hugh earthquake and tsunami which killed thousands.

Fr. Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist papers.

This column appeared in the edition published 23 March 2011.

Last week St. Patrick’s Day celebrations gave great hope and encouragement to me personally. It is absolutely fantastic how alive our communities are. The St. Patrick’s Day Parades across the county, affirms and highlights the tremendous spirit of volunteerism that enhances the quality and life of our local areas. The spring like conditions, blue skies and emerging daffodils gave us all a great lift. A lift in stark contrast to the people of Japan.

The recent Earthquake and Tsunami felt by the people of Japan and the Pacific Basin has left a horror of misery in its fallout. Images of the disaster on our T.V. screens were both shocking and frightening. When it comes to our own situation it certainly puts things into context. Our world, like its members is a fragile and vulnerable planet. Something on that scale forces us to realise how fragile and vulnerable we all are. Those waters were completely indiscriminate. They took no account whether one was young or old, rich or poor. They just crushed on, relentlessly. In so many ways it is an imponderable how the world, life, society does not implode on itself. And yet it all keeps going and we manage. Even in the most horrific of circumstances we get up again, dust ourselves down and get back to business.

It would be an unwise person who would say anything other than we are all amazingly fragile. We might go about our business oblivious to what might happen, but we all know that just around the corner anything is possible. Nature can throw what it wishes at us and it is only a fool who could think that he or she is impervious to the might and force of nature.

In a short period of time we have seen terrible floods in Pakistan, the 2004 tsunami, the earthquake in Haiti and now this catastrophe in Japan.

No matter how often nature show its all-powerful card we are easily lulled into some sort of lethargy or laziness that helps us forget how we can be thrown about and devastated by mother nature. Is there some sort of parallel about how we use and speak about the notion of God? Maybe there is no God and the world is just what we see, experience and live. On the other hand, just because we don’t see or understand God, is that good enough reason to say there is no God?

Just as the power of nature is ultimately unknown and surprising, in a similar way the reality and presence of God is mysterious and mystifying. There are too many clues out there for me to be able to deny the existence of God. I’m inclined to say I’m far too fragile and vulnerable to dare say there is no God. I’ll leave it at that. Television networks are saying it will cost in the region of €70billion to clean up after the tsunami in Japan. What’s frightening about that is, that it is less than we have borrowed. Nevertheless, next time we have a cold spell or severe rains and winds we should go easy on the complaining. We have much to be grateful for.