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  • Kerry D. Krauss

Plate Tectonics

In 1915 Alfred Wegener reiterated what other scientist had previously advocated. His book The Origin of Continents and Oceans put forth the hypothesis of ‘continental drift’, that by a natural process the land masses of Earth have travelled and will continue to travel. The work of two geophysicists in the 1950’s would further validate Wegener’s work.

The theory of plate tectonics has multiplied rapidly since then. We now work from a map of plates which shift, push, and pull. These plates diverge, converge, and transform (all technical terms) the earth. We don’t always recognize that we are diverging, converging, or transforming, but we are—constantly.

We are not aware of the pressure of converging plates—until they shift. The work of plate tectonics is largely underground. The cycles, the pressure points, the lifting and falling of land masses occurs quietly, underground, with little notice.

So much of us, so much of our life and living occurs quietly, underground, with little notice. Under pressure, we diverge, converge, and transform. We present to the outside a mask of staid composure. We hide the inner turmoil. We conceal the tension.

Until we can’t.

Until our composure fails, until the turmoil tumults and spills out, until our concealed tension ruptures the fault line. We can only hold it together for so long. Eventually we crack and crumble. It is one of the most human things we do.

When the plates beneath us shift, the earth vibrates as everything settles into the new normal. On October 17,1989 the San Francisco earthquake registered 6.9 on the Richter scale. That quake lasted 20 seconds. A 5.2 aftershock occurred approximately 2.5 minutes after the main shock. In the week following ‘the big one’, 20 aftershocks magnitude 4.0 or greater and more than 300 of magnitude 2.5 or greater were recorded. Thousands of aftershocks were recorded.

The ground beneath us settles into our new reality. We feel the turbulence of 2020 and will for years. In 2008 a 5.2 earthquake struck in Mt. Carmel, IN. The earthquake damaged the West Salem Moravian Church. I felt in Hope. We felt in Hope. We heard the plates rattle in the china cupboard. We saw the coffee in our mugs slosh a little. More than the visible signs of an earthquake, we could feel the dis-ease. The earth, upset, had moved and then resettled.

I could feel it then—the dis-ease, the disquiet. I feel it now, too. Maybe the stress of 2020 reveals our fault lines? Maybe the tension exposes our helplessness?

I’m not enjoying this, but I’m not ready for the tension to go back underground. I’m not ready for things to settle back in. We can see what we’ve worked so hard to conceal. Rather than put things back in the old order, let’s consider this progress and let the new order represent our best intentions for ourselves and the world we give to the next generations.

I love you.

I need you.

I hope for you.

Please be safe.

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