Earthquake, protests, lockdown what next?

It has been a crazy few days in Melbourne. Okay, maybe it’s been a crazy 20 months given the media reports that Melbourne, when all the different lockdowns are combined, has been in lockdown longer than any other city anywhere in the world!

My biggest concern this morning was whether our city would be overtaken by protesters again today as the construction workers have been threatening to protest every day for the next fortnight after our Premier shut down all construction on Sunday night.

But that soon changed just after 9am, as I sat at my dining table at my laptop scanning emails, cat on my knee. The entire building – an inner city conversion of a factory into six town residences – started shaking. The glasses rattled. A large pot on the roof deck came crashing down. The shaking kept going. It was not a thunderstorm. I have never experienced an earthquake. I didn’t want to call it that, but it was clearly a very significant earth tremor.

Well it’s just that everything seems to be going on in Melbourne at the moment.

I started receiving texts from adult children from their Melbourne-based homes. My neighbour. A colleague. “Did you just experience a tremor?” “Are you okay?” “Wow. Wasn’t that weird?” My husband bolted out of his CBD high-rise office building, convinced it was falling in. I scanned Twitter. Messages from all over Victoria confirmed they had also felt the tremor. And then it was called an earthquake!

What’s the fuss, you might say? Well, it’s just that everything seems to be going on in Melbourne at the moment. It feels like too much! Up to 3,000 protestors, predominantly in high vis vests, took to the streets yesterday for the third day out of four (perhaps they too stayed at home to listen to Premier Dan Andrews’ roadmap out of COVID on Sunday). Specialist riot squad police were out in force trying to hold back the protestors. The entire CBD was taken over for most of the day and into the night. Police and news helicopters buzzed overhead. Looking at the news footage, most of the protestors appeared peaceful, but some attacked police cars, one person threw a projectile (a can of energy drink) at a television journalist as he did a piece to camera, striking him in the back of the head. This pack of predominantly men ended up on the Westgate Bridge after streaming onto the freeway and halting all traffic.

But back to the tremor. As the texts came in, I started thinking that this could be a prelude to something bigger. What should I do? What could I do? I checked the street. People were starting to come out, looking somewhat confused, maybe fearful. Someone posted a video of tram lines down and awnings covered in fallen bricks and other debris in Prahran.

The ABC app has reported that three earthquakes struck in NE Victoria, with tremors felt across the state, along with NSW, Canberra and even in Adelaide and Launceston.

To be perfectly honest, my anxiety levels are through the roof. I had already fully embraced the word ‘languishing’ stemming from constant lockdowns. Then we see people marauding through our streets, maskless, creating further risks to our health system, as they create probable ‘super spreader’ events. And now an earthquake. One text I received ended “But seriously what else does Melbourne need?!”

Thankfully my hope comes from the Redeeming God who promises his peace which surpasses all understanding. And while I live in this weird world right now I find wonder and delight in my local public gardens, full of spring colour and new life. One pair of Mane ducks is protecting their brand new brood of 10 ducklings. The pleasure of watching these tiny creatures learn to jump out of a pond soothes the stress. The pond will be my daily medicinal walk so I can watch their progress and briefly forget about the other matters outside of my control.

PS The helicopters are in the sky again. I gather protestors are in our CBD, but in much smaller numbers.