Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Revisiting 9-11

Holy Spirit, I’m in need of inspiration. Lift my spirit.

The 9-11 observance was not cathartic for me. The replay was painful.

My church held a moving service. I was drained.

It’s an emotional stew of bad religion, hatred, mass murder, destruction and war. A horrible day and a decade of collateral damage.

I have read the retrospectives and the opposing viewpoints. I am unable to sort out events of the past ten years with the certitude of pundits and politicians.

I feel deep appreciation, however, for the bravery and sacrifice of public safety workers, as we revisit that day. The same holds true for our soldiers, past and present tense. A great price has been paid to restore our security. I am profoundly thankful that our country has not been attacked yet again.

Their courage. Their service and sacrifice. For our security. In gratitude, I discover inspiration. Amen.

A Reflection on 9-11

On 9/11/01 my day began with a weekly Bible study at the downtown Durham YMCA. We had a big debate on the inherent depravity of humanity. Our leader, who had fundamentalist leanings, was pressing hard on the depravity issue, and I was holding out for just a shred of goodness. We declared a theological tie, and I departed for breakfast at the Marriott. An awful irony was unfolding…

An hour later I was in my office at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Our General Manager called, and he asked if I was watching television. The World Trade Center was ablaze. Another plane hit, and I watched the towers collapse on my tiny office television. Horiffic. Reality trumps sci-fi in unimaginable fashion.

Returning to routine, I did a Meals-on-Wheels route during lunch. A ninety-three year old widow didn’t know about the terrorist attack. She hadn’t turned on the TV, preferring to talk about her cats and collard greens.

I was compelled to go by our home that afternoon. I wanted to see my wife and daughter. We checked in with the other children and our parents. That contact was especially consoling. It was important to hear their voices, to say “I love you.”

My wife and I took a walk after dinner. We live near the airport. With all planes grounded, it was eerily quite. It was a crisp, clear night. The sky was filled with stars. I thought about the terrorist attack and that Bible study conversation about mankind’s wickedness. I resolved to hold tightly to God’s love and providence.

Two days later we collected for the Red Cross on the street in front of the ballpark in Durham. We passed out miniature American flags. $60,000 was contributed in only a day.

The next evening, we hosted a community worship service at the ballpark. A diverse crowd of four thousand attended. It was almost two ours of preachin’ and prayin’.

Looking back at my journal notes, I’m encouraged at the community’s immediate response to that nightmare of a day. The outpouring of financial support. The solidarity in worship.

Generosity and solidarity are not highlights of our national mood at present, but still, I’m holding tightly to God’s love and providence. That’s my definition of Christian hope, the antidote to fear.