Mt. Etna is a sight to behold. It stands off into the distance creating a beautiful backdrop visible from the tourist town of Taormina, Sicily. On a clear day, you can easily forget that it is Europe’s most active volcano. As you drive the winding road up to the top, there are reminders of its power and its ominous capability for destruction. After an eruption, the lava flow leaves behind blackened, scorched earth and it is hard to imagine that any living thing can rise from the volcanic ash again. However, nature has a way of thriving.
As you travel up Mt. Etna, you see patches of earth that are covered with black volcanic rock and creeping up in between the rubble are brilliantly green plants covered with ladybugs along with other signs of life. The volcanic ash adds unique minerals to the soil that nourish the vegetation, insects, and goats that inhabit the volcanic mountain.
As you travel back down, you see the other side of Mt. Etna dotted with homes and vineyards. It is at this point that you realize, beauty can result from devastation. We see examples of this throughout our daily lives. Unpredictable events can have a profound effect on our lives at a moment’s notice. At times it is unbearable to imagine how our lives can continue on, but human nature is resilient and is also mirrored in nature.
Early Sunday morning, 102 people and the lives of their families and friends were changed forever. It is impossible to try and understand how one broken individual lost sight of the fact that we are all people. In the wake of this devastation, we search for answers, struggle for understanding, and desperately seek to make sense of it all. Some will point fingers and place blame, others will work tirelessly to bring hope and comfort, but most of all, we need to seek unity in the face of terror. If it happens to one, it happens to us all.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.” ~ Helen Keller
May we all have the strength or be the strength others need to not let our loss be in vain. Let us overcome this tragedy by loving others a little more, by treasuring the differences that make us unique, and by seeing each other as people. Let our lives represent the beauty lost after devastation.