Friday, August 6, 2010
Well, we've made the local news! The media found out about us, and interviewed Marco, our Italian worker bee, who was on the news last night. This morning, a news paper article is in a local journal. We expect to have the camera crews there over the weekend - wow!
But I owe you a story...read on!
Antonella, a student at a local university in L’Aquila, was asleep in her dorm when the earthquake hit. She jumped out of bed to protect herself under a table, and cried out to God for help. She managed to get down the stairwell before it collapsed, but the exit was blocked by collapsing concrete. Someone helped her get outside, and she found herself running up the street and over the bridge, away from the disaster which took the lives of several of her fellow students.
Another miracle was taking place behind her: the dorm stairwell collapsed, leaving a number of students trapped on the upper floors. A human pyramid began forming; more tragedy was averted as students were rescued, one by one, down the human pyramid (inspiring one of our pieces in the exhibit, “Pyramid of Hope,” by Anna Smith, OM UK).
We first heard Antonella’s story after walking the city streets, seeing the damage firsthand. Antonella was one of our guides; we learned about the heroism of the fire fighters, the corruption of those in power, and the meaning of the keys left hanging on a fence—symbolic of a people’s desire to return home.
But it was Antonella’s story that captured our hearts. As we heard her story, we asked to see the student dorm. Viewing the building sheered in two, the wreckage below, and the photographs and memorials, our group went silent. As we turned to leave, Antonella commented, “I wonder when my photo will be on a tree.”
How does one live without fear in the fragile future of a city whose history is marked by earthquakes? We asked Antonella. “It’s hard,” she admitted. “God helps me.”
Last weekend, as I looked around at all the artwork being produced, and revised a few poems I’m working on, I realized they all revolved around one story: Antonella’s. The human pyramid, the young student cowering under a table crying out to God for help, the survivor…yes, Antonella was our story, the ‘person of peace’ that God had literally brought into our midst. Wow.
I asked Antonella for permission to focus our exhibit on her, and she gave it. The team was galvanized. A new surge of creativity began and floundering projects finished. We had our story.