It even reached South Africa...

I've been speechless as the tsunami disaster unfolded in Asia, watching in horror as the footage is shown again and again, or new stories emerge each night on the news. Wondering how I'd feel if I had to run for my life from a wall of water, or lost my kid in the swirling mess of trees and vehicles and sea.

The numbers of dead are incomprehensible. How do you picture 60,000 or more dead bodies? How many, many more thousands are affected because it's their family, their friends that are gone?

My parents spent time in Phuket and other areas nearby on their way to live in Australia - to see those incredible beaches washed away, bodies between palm trees in what was a tropical paradise - it's beyond words.

Yesterday a mercy flight left from South Africa, as others did from many lands. It carried doctors, nurses, rescue personnel and donated goods. It returned today with some of the 1,600 South Africans trapped in Thailand, though many more are stranded elsewhere. A few South African bodies on board too, returning home, but not as they imagined they would when they left here. All over the world countries are digging deep to help - personnel, food and water, medical equipment.

It's amazing - us humans think we're so in control of what happens in our little speck of universe. We plan for tomorrow and study after school so we can get a good job. We go to bed expecting to wake up in the morning, we save for a trip in a year's time. We build tall and dig deep, all the time convinced we've got a good grip on things.

But how much in control are we really? We can't control the movement of tectonic plates. We can't control the weather or the seas or the ozone layer. Basically, we're here on grace. We've got a hold on life by a thin, brittle strand that can very easily snap without our having a say over it. (Though I understand the Thai government had 2 hours warning, but did nothing because of possible damage to their tourism business....!)

Life is not in our hands. Not at all. Every breath is a gift, and our very survival is something we honestly don't have control over at all.

Our planet is so very, very small.

So small, that we felt the wave on our shores. The sea rose quickly, and then sank. Even in our little bay. A friend and her kids were playing on the local beach, walking on exposed rocks - within minutes the rocks were covered in water and the sandcastles were being washed away. Half an hour later it was back to normal... Not just a "spring tide" as some have claimed. Amazing how far a wave can travel!
And yet, the animals know when something's coming. Pity us humans are rather thick-headed and have lost most of our natural instincts, now that we're civilized and all! :)