Sunday, September 11, 2005

September 11th - Remembered

We are paying special respects to September 11th during our worship service at church today. Many of us were asked to just write our thoughts about that day, and 4 will be read intertwined within a beautiful song about maintaining hope. I have asked the other writers if I may share their recollections here (I will add them as I get their emailed copies, so this will be updated)...I hope that you find something to 'hold on' to in one or more of them:

Words That Never Fail
In remembering 9/11, our language is no match for our sorrow. It is limited; finite; simply not up to the task of giving voice to our grief.
On that Tuesday in 2001 and in the weeks following, many of us found ourselves groping for words, attempting to make sense of what is senseless.
My husband Scott phoned from work that morning, advising me to turn on the television. It was a difficult call for him—as a young theater student, I lived in Manhattan and have an abiding affinity with New York and New Yorkers.
“A plane accidentally hit the Trade Center!?” I asked, unable to grasp what he was telling me. Scott was silent for some time; words failed him. At last, he said simply, “I’m coming home.”
Later in the day, I was momentarily puzzled by the decorated cake on our kitchen table, the gaily wrapped presents—I’d forgotten that my daughter Caroline was marking her 8th birthday that day. After the family celebrated, just before bed, we told her what had happened. She listened sadly, and finally looked up with a serious little face—Was anyone hurt? she asked. And I crumpled; began to cry; couldn’t answer—there were no words to soften the horror.
The following Christmas, my family attended a wedding in Manhattan. Even blocks from Ground Zero, even with the drone of heavy machinery working to clear the debris, the silence was striking. The site itself—shrouded in dust, heavily populated with the grieving—was as hushed and reverent as the loftiest cathedral. No one could put speech to so great a pain, to so immense a loss.
Todd Beamer might have been speechless, at first—but he knew just where to look. In the last minutes of his life, he recited the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm with a telephone operator. Scores of believers, like Beamer, died that day. And while they may have groped in darkness, I’m confident they did not grope for words. Surely, they offered up to all those around them words of Truth…Light…Life…that resonated in the chaos.
So we also turn to the only words of any value to us. Our own language may prove inadequate, sorely lacking, but the Scripture is never at a loss for words. It is never struck dumb, never rendered speechless. For all eternity, It knows just what to say.
In remembering the thousands who lost their lives at World Trade, at the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania—we let Isaiah 60, Verses 1-3, speak for us, and to us:

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
—LM, 9/9/2005
Losing a Life
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, began with a trip to the orthodontist. Bright colors, fun pictures, a game room, and TVs everywhere were all geared toward entertainment while you were there. That morning, though, everything was quiet and the TVs in the waiting area alone revealed the horror that was happening before the world’s eyes. I was stunned by the scenes that unfolded before me and at the same time struck by the irony of watching these events unfold in a child’s environment with the sounds of video games in the background.

I pushed through the day, as many of us did, with many questions and few answers. I cried and prayed throughout the day. The outcome was devastating and growing worse with each passing moment. I knew our lives were changing dramatically right before our eyes.

Thankfully, we had no family or friends to worry about in Washington DC, Philadelphia or New York. We didn’t know anyone personally who died that day. We lost no one and nothing on September 11. However, we had no idea what we would lose as a result of that day in the years to come.

At the time we felt blessed and protected that Dennis, my husband, hadn’t been traveling, as he often did, to New York on business. He was in the commercial interiors industry – had been for nearly 15 years. Unfortunately, like many other similar industries, they began to feel the effects of the aftermath of 9/11. By the following year, business was drastically reduced. The doors to the Dallas office Dennis worked from were closed – his position eliminated.

Days turned to weeks; weeks to months. Job opportunities vanished, one after the other. Money began to run low. Our health insurance benefits ran out. We were down to one car. It was all we could do to cling to God, but cling we did… That’s when the next leg of our journey began – a journey toward hope :0)

We realized after some time that there were patterns developing. First, we prayed for an answer from God regarding a job – finally understanding that God WAS answering… He said “No” and “Wait.” A second pattern was provision. Every time we thought we were monetarily exhausted, God provided. A bill never went unpaid. Every need was met. Instead of healthcare insurance coverage – God gave us good health! A third pattern – and this was the big one – was ministry. Little by little, God began to bring people in our lives to minister to. People with struggles we couldn’t relate to and problems much deeper than our own. People who needed someone to be the hands and feet of Christ to them, to serve them, to know what Jesus looked like with skin on.

It’s been almost three years now. Dennis consults on a part-time basis. Job opportunities continue to come… and vanish. We’ve sold our house. We’ve cut our budget; sacrificed and then some more. Dennis still doesn’t have full-time employment, but most days he has a full-time job – tending to the people God brings along for him to walk with; to mentor. We realize now that God needed to weed out the former life to open our eyes to the life around us. While we still pray for and seek full-time employment, mostly I pray for God to open our eyes to each ministry opportunity every day.

We didn’t lose anyone on 9/11. We lost a life, though. Some days it can still be hard – the aftermath continues. But we realize that in losing the life we built, God gave us a life that He is building. One focused on His Kingdom’s work. A life focused on hope and His purpose for us.
S.R. 9/11/05

Remembering Sept 11th
The drive to work that day is imprinted in my brain I turned south onto the tollway from 635, I could see people in their cars so clearly as they were hearing the news or talking about it with loved ones. I could see the expressions on their faces as though I were in the car with them, and the shock and horror and fear were evident. I knew what they were hearing and talking about while they reached quickly for the radio and dialed numbers frantically, and I remember wondering why I had never paid that much attention to fellow drivers before.

I walked into our office, and everyone was gathered in the kitchen watching the coverage on tv. As we all stood there, just numb, we did an inventory of our staff who were traveling, clients who were in NY, friends who could possibly be affected... I thought of one of the moms in our play group who worked at American Airlines, so I went immediately to my desk and called her.

I was glad that I did...and so was she. This single mom needed someone to pick up her children from preschool that afternoon because she was clearly going to be working late. Keeping the kids that evening actually turned into keeping them for a few days, as my friend had the unenviable task of notifying the families of the crews who had been serving on those flights.

I remember watching the footage of the buildings falling and thinking of the children who perished. I just broke down and told God that I couldn't bear the burden of trying to keep my children safe anymore...that I couldn't handle the responsibility and that I had to commit them totally to Him because it was clear that no matter how hard we try, or how many fences we build, or how many rules we put into place...our plans to keep our children safe are not fail-proof. It was in that moment that I fully realized my children were not my own...I was merely a steward of them here on earth. I am still not the parent I would like to be, but that changed me in a fundamental changed forever the way that I look at my kids.

Earlier this summer, we visited New York. When we walked up to Ground Zero, I was as though someone had kicked me in the stomach, and all those feelings from 4 years ago came rushing back and stung like a scab ripped from a crusty knee. The wind left my lungs and I struggled to fill them back up as I instantly imagined the sounds...and the smoke...and the sights of that incredibly sorrowful Tuesday. And the others who were there, looking upon the scar on the ground, standing side by side reading the memorial must have shared the same reaction because we all stood there in reverent silence, biting our lips...wiping away silent tears...and slowly shaking our heads in disbelief.

How has it changed me? I don't know how -- I just know that it has. Sept 11th was one of those moments in life that so dramatically shakes up the playing board that you simply must start anew instead of trying to start back where you were before. While we play out our games here on earth, as serious as they may be, there is assurance in knowing that in the end, Good will win out. We know how the story ends.


At 9:29 PM, Blogger amberdusk said...

That just took me right back to that day. I was a preschool teacher trying to fake it for the 12 little ones in my class when one of them started telling the class about planes crashing and people on fire jumping from the buildings and how her mommy was crying. It took everyting I had to hold it together. Thank you for posting that.

At 5:05 AM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Amazing. Simply amazing. As has been said, I have no other words to justify how I feel.

At 7:43 AM, Blogger jenbeauty said...

Very touching commentary and memories. Thank you for sharing.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger Jada's Gigi said...

Thank you....


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