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Did you feel the earthquake?

By Sally Ann McLean

If the media is to be believed, the Puget Sound region suffered an earthquake at 9:04 p.m. on Thursday, May 2, 1996. The television reporters said so; the next morning, the newspaper reporters said so, too.

My husband Allan and I and our cat Floyd were sitting in the living room watching television when the station’s newsroom reporter cut in to announce the breaking news of an earthquake that had just rumbled through the area. Allan and I looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders, as if to ask each other, “Earthquake? What earthquake? I didn’t feel an earthquake. Did you feel an earthquake?” No, neither Allan nor I had felt the earthquake. If Floyd had felt it, he evidently had chosen to ignore it in favor of continuing his nap.

By now, the news of the earthquake had preempted regular programming, and the station’s newsroom was buzzing with activity. Off-duty news anchors came running back to the studio, telling us where they were when the quake hit and what they felt, bringing with them reports from Seattle’s University of Washington’s seismology, breathlessly saying, “This, just in. . . .” Viewers called in with their personal testimonies. The camera from the news helicopter gave witness to the fact that the lights of the city were still on and traffic was moving normally. No injuries or damage had been reported. In fact, there was, at this point, no physical evidence that this earthquake was anything more than an elaborate hoax.

“Did you feel the earthquake?” Viewers from the Canadian border to the Oregon state line called in to respond the news anchor’s question. “Yes, I felt the earthquake!” was the answer all these folks gave. But, there the similarity ended. Everyone seemed to have felt something different, for different durations, and at different intensities.

I wonder if the first Easter experience was something like that. There had been a handful of witnesses at the empty tomb that morning – different people, standing in different places, seeing from different angles, bring to and taking away their different experiences, different perspectives, different emotions, but each telling essentially the same story.

No, I hadn’t felt the earthquake that Thursday evening. But does that mean it didn’t happen? Since all those accounts of the experiences shared on the television’s news program were different, does that mean all those people were wrong, there had been no earthquake? I believe our area was indeed jolted by an earthquake that Thursday evening in May. Many credible folks told me so.

Were Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary hallucinating or were they credible witnesses? Were you at the tomb that first Easter morning, or are you able to believe anyway?



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