Feeling the Earth Move by Carol P. Christ

carol-p-christ-photo-michael-bakasMagnitude 5.2 earthquake Feb 6, 5:51 AM I awake to the sound of the windows and shutters rattling and the bed moving up and down beneath me for a few seconds.

Magnitude 5.4 earthquake Feb 6, 12:58 PM This is the first time I can remember two big earthquakes coming so close together.

Magnitude 4.9 earthquake Feb 6, 1:45 PM A friend calls to ask if I think the earthquakes are building up. “The big ones are rare” I say.

The first seismologist to weigh in assures us there is nothing to worry about, as this new series of quakes is not on a major fault.

Magnitude 5.1 Tuesday Feb 7, 2:24 Shake, rattle, and roll.

Magnitude 4.5 Tuesday Feb 7, 5:15 Awakened.

Magnitude 4.6 earthquake Feb 7, 21:35 PM Another jolt.

Magnitude 4.3 earthquake Feb 8, 12:53 AM The bed shaking and the windows rattling.

Magnitude 4.9 earthquake Feb 8, 3:38 AM Awakening again, feels bigger this time.

A second seismologist warns that the series of quakes could be building up to a big one like the 6.6 quake that caused significant damage to the island in 1865.

I become uneasy. My friend decides to move temporarily to a hotel at the other end of the island, farther away from the epicenter.

Magnitude 3.5 Feb 8, 15:31 I wonder if I should leave the village too.

I decide to sleep in my study, fearing the ceiling fan above my bed could fall on me.

Magnitude 3.6 Feb 9, 12:37 AM The couch makes less noise than the bed.

Magnitude. 4.0 Feb 9, 10:13 AM Louder than the one in the night.

Magnitude 3.6 Feb 9, 15:01 PM  Not as big as the last one.

I sleep in my study a second night. No quakes.

In the morning I move my blankets and pillows back to the bed.

Magnitude 4.5 earthquake Feb 10, 10:55 AM. The house shakes.

Magnitude 4.3 Feb 10, 12:27 PM A sharp jolt gives me a slight whiplash.


Mithimna (also known as Molivos), Lesbos, where I live is at the top of the triangle that is Lesbos, about 11 miles from the epicenter of the earthquakes. Besides the larger quakes, there have been one or two smaller ones just about every hour during the past week.

There have been no major quakes for more than twenty-four hours. Is it over?

In the long run, it is not. The Anatolian fault runs from below Istanbul to just above Lesbos and out into the Aegean Sea. The Anatolian plate is being pushed westward by the Arabian plate and northward by the African plate. The Anatolian plate is being prevented by moving northward by the European plate. Many years from now the African plate will collide with the European plate and there will be no Mediterranean Sea.

The movement of the earth’s plates is a result of its molten core. “The planetary community has long accepted that as the Earth lost its internal heat, it would eventually settle into a quiescent stagnant state much like Mars.”

Like it or not, uncertainty and instability in the ground under our feet is part of what makes ours a living planet. This is the literal truth. Is it also a metaphor for our lives?

Update: After a quiet day on Saturday we had a 4.8 at midnight and a 5.2 at about 4 in the afternoon. 3.7, 3.6, and 3.5 on Sunday night and early Monday morning, rounding out a full week of tremors. NO it is not over.

(Note: Though there are cracks in the plaster in many of our buildings, including in my house, there has been no significant damage at this time.)


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Carol wrote the first Goddess feminist theology, Rebirth of the Goddess and with Judith Plaskow co-edited the path-breaking Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions.

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Categories: Earth-based spirituality, Embodiment, evolution, Feminism and Religion, General

Tags: , , , , , ,

12 replies

  1. “Like it or not, uncertainty and instability in the ground under our feet is part of what makes ours a living planet. This is the literal truth. Is it also a metaphor for our lives?” Yes, yes indeed! Seems to me patriarchy itself is all about having things tightly controlled. It doesn’t work (that is, doesn’t accomplish patriarchy’s desire) and the more it doesn’t work, the tighter the patriarchy grasps making things even more miserable.

    Glad you are okay and damage is minimal. Be safe. Sending light your way.


  2. Stay safe Carol!


  3. What Esther said! I know you will keep us update on you and Lesbos!


  4. Holy cow! Did we have any earthquakes when you were living in SoCal? Your last week-plus on Lesbos sounds scarier than the earthquakes we’ve had here lately. Plate tectonics proves–or should prove–to us how tiny we all are. Even presidents and jihadis are powerless against the planet. Take good care of yourself! Keep us updated.


  5. What a week, Carol! I’ve never lived where earthquakes happen, so it’s hard to imagine how multiple quakes a day changes one’s perspective on living. Sometimes a metaphor is better at a distance! Keep safe!


  6. Yes. A metaphor for life I sometimes forget. And as Esther wrote: “uncertainty and instability in the ground under our feet is part of what makes ours a living planet.” So many things to think about in this.
    Meanwhile Carol, I hope you stay safe, even if shaken.


  7. “Uncertainty and instability in the ground under our feet is part of what makes ours a living planet.”

    Thanks Carol — on the positive side, your post reminds me also of Carole King’s song — where she sings some of these beautiful lines in variation —

    “I feel the earth move under my feet
    I feel the sky comin’ down, a tumbling down
    I feel my heart starts a tumblin
    Whenever you’re around, around…”


  8. All those earthquakes must be unsettling, to say the least. I grew up in Southern California and so I was used to earthquakes and they never bothered me, until I experienced the big Northridge quake. We lost electricity for several hours. My husband was in the hospital at the time and as I drove across the city to see him it felt surreal because all the traffic signals were out, which of course caused some chaos. Anyway, I was never so blase about earthquakes again! A few years later we moved to Maine. They have tiny quakes here, but I’ve never felt them.

    I hope you and your building stay safe and that no one is harmed by the quakes. I also hope they stop soon.


  9. I remember in 1989, just a year after I had moved back to San Francisco from Molivos, having the exact same feeling as my building shook and I “sheltered” in the doorway with my 9 year old son and his friend. And that quake was not even considered to be a Bay Area quake.

    The Earth teaches us that truly nothing lasts forever and security is an illusion created by the human mind. But it is in our nature to seek safety for ourselves and our loved ones. My prayers for your safety and the safety of my beloved Molivos are with you.


  10. Yikes! That’s scary!


  11. Thanks to all of you for your concern. Last night was uneventful.


  12. Peace and safety Carol… the body of the earth is as prone to upheaval as is our own…


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