I’ve known all day that I had to write something. The significance of today’s date has been playing in my head like background music all day. This morning, I cried while watching the Today Show’s coverage of the various memorial services being conducted in New York, at the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania. I wasn’t going to watch today. But I did, and it took me back to that day 5 years ago.
I just spent several minutes writing about what that day looked like for me, but it sounded flat and colorless written out in a series of “and then” remembrances, so I erased it all. We all have our stories of where we were when we heard the news. As we all recall, the emotion of that day can’t really be described. The best I can do is to say that I felt scared and angry and helpless, like everyone else. I remember that my husband was out of the country when it happened and I was desperate to have him home. When he finally made it home about 36 hours after the nightmare began, I collapsed. I remember feeling like I had been holding my breath for two days and, when I saw him safe and walking towards me, I could finally breathe again. (The story of how he got home from Canada is a pretty interesting one!)
What else could I say about that day 5 years ago? I could tell you how I felt anxious when I was away from the news for too long. I could tell you how I felt compelled to sit and watch the footage over and over again; that somehow through my little bit of voyeuristic suffering, I was showing my support and love for those whose suffering was more than anyone could possibly bear alone. I could tell you that I was mad at God and wondered if He had taken a break that morning. But there is no need to tell you any of these things because you felt it too…you lived it right along side of me.
And that brings us to the other thing that I remembered while watching the coverage this morning…that sense of solidarity that we all felt…that sense of connection. The sense that we were all in this together…that our collective suffering somehow made it a little bit better. That there were no strangers…no competition….no “us vs. them.” Remember how we actually looked one another in the eyes when we met in the grocery store, as if we were greeting a fellow sojourner on this unexpected journey we all suddenly found ourselves on? Remember how we were all gentler with one another for a while? Remember how we were all kinder to one another…more loving, more accepting? How the petty squabbles suddenly seemed just that…petty? For awhile, our energy was spent comforting one another, honoring our heroes, taking care of those left behind. For awhile, we stopped pointing fingers and throwing stones at people who disagree with us. It was almost as if, during those first few weeks, we got a glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven right here on earth. But then, the fear took over…
Here is the scripture that got me through those first few days. The imagery of the mountains falling into the sea particularly struck me at the time:
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
One of the people killed at the Pentagon 5 years ago today was Colonel Bud Boone. He was a member of our church and a member of the choir with me. Bud had a beautiful tenor voice and I was blessed to have him stand right behind me many Sunday mornings. Read more about Bud here and please keep his wife, Linda, and their sons in your prayers today, along with the other families who still mourn. We haven’t forgotten any of you!