Today is 9/11.
A day most of us will never forget.
The day when war no longer took place on other shores,
in other countries far away.
The day that hatred and terrorism hurt American in a new way.
A shocking and terrible way.
I grew up on Long Island and visited New York City many times.
My father worked in the city most of his life.
I knew the World Trade Centers as most of us did.
But I had moved upstate when I went to college and remained in that beautiful land of mountains, rivers and lakes to marry,
work and raise my children.
Live my life. I consider myself a country woman.
A New Yorker, nonetheless.
That fateful day, I entered the waiting area of the cancer center where I worked, joking around with my first patient of the morning, a man I'd grown to know as a friend, who was there for one of many frequent blood transfusions he required to stay alive. In that area was a TV. We were both stunned to see the first tower burst into flames from the first plane. My mind spun to make some sense of this, considering possibilities for such a tragedy. Could one of the little tour jets that frequented the airspace above the harbor, circling the Statue of Liberty, have lost control? A commercial plane that somehow missed its course?
He and I walked silently and thoughtfully to the infusion room so I could prepare him for the transfusion to come. We turned on the little TV in an attempt to learn more details.
It was then that the second tower was hit.
Nausea overcame me and then I knew.
This was no accident.
This carnage was intentional.
America's land was vulnerable. We were targeted.
The city hospitals prepared for disaster status and even our regional blood bank dealt with lines of donors willingly offering what they could.
All for nothing. The influx of injured never came.
Trauma units remained empty.
Thousands died within minutes.
Americans everywhere flocked to churches and synagogues,
falling to their knees in prayer.
Fear abounded. Questions surged. Would we ever feel safe again?
Lives and patterns and security would change forever.
We have learned to accept these changes
and basically gone on with our lives.
But should we?
No one can live in constant fear.
Physically, the cortisol levels will damage and eventually
destroy our bodies.
Emotionally, fear will limit, hinder and also destroy us.
We need to find a way to categorize fears
and move forward with confidence.
Learn to cope with a different color world than we knew before 9/11/2001.
But the prayers, the need to seek out Someone greater--I wish that had not faded along with the acute memory of the terror;
that this new vulnerability would bring forth a deeper spirituality in us Americans,
pulling us away from consumerism and worldly desires.
These material things can explode and be gone as swiftly as the
Twin Towers, all steel and glass and economic strength,
fell to the ground in a terrible pile of rubble and debris.
Relationship, not stuff, can survive fire and destruction.
On the 10th anniversary (oh, can it be that many years?) of 9/11,
I hope the acute memory of its impact reminds us
of what really matters in our lives.
And we sort through our personal rubble in an effort to heal
and lead to not mere restoration of what was, but a new wholeness and refreshing of the relationships in our lives.
And live this way for today while it is today.
And the next "today". And the next...
I join the psalmist who has confidence in God's eternal love which is unchanging in the midst of changing situations. Herein is my security. From Psalm 118:
"In my anguish I cried to the LORD,
and he answered by setting me free.
The LORD is with me, I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man...
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it...
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever."