Friday, September 9, 2011

The Reality, the Union, the Hope from 9/11

To my Brother, the Stranger
(written on 9/12/01)

I did not know you.  I never met you.  If I had seen you, you would have been simply a face in the crowd.  My thoughts never touched upon the possibility of your existence.

And yet. . .
And yet when I heard of the tragedy of losing you, you were suddenly my brother, my sister, my best friend.  You were the comrade I never had the opportunity to meet, the face I could sketch simply because of how many faces you are.  And every time I open my mind, it is to realize anew that you were a person, you were loved, and now you’re gone.
It’s a shock I never expected to feel, a pain no man, woman, or child should ever have to endure.  And I did not know you.  How much worse must it be for the widows, the orphans, the childless parents, the brotherless sisters that were made on that day?  How much worse again for those who yet know nothing about the fate of those dearest to them?
It is a pain no one should have to gaze on, much less be consumed by.  It is a piercing that should quickly tear down all barriers until there is nothing left but a shaken humanity, a resolved people, a united nation.  It should induce the best in man when he looks at evil, when he sees the dancing in his enemy’s camps.  It should make him realize that the sickness he feels, the death he sees is a presence to be ignored no longer.
I pray that somehow this change in our lives will be used in a way to make us better.  I pray that as I walk down the streets of my untouched city I never forget that it could be gone in a moment.  I pray that as I pass a stranger I remember to remember that he is not a stranger to someone.  I pray that soon all our fears are exhausted and we are left instead with hope.  And I pray that we never take for granted the greatness of our nation, lest through our disregard it lose that thing that sets us apart.
I can never say the right words to those who are grieving, because there are no words to be said.  I did not know you.  I never met you.  All I can offer you is the love of a face you have never seen and the prayers of a heart that is reaching across the miles to the strangers it now calls brothers.
May God enfold us in His arms until the terror goes away.  May He settle his peace over us until the rivers of tears run dry.  May He comfort us until we become victorious.  And may we never forget that it is He who will lift us from the mire.  Today America has united in common anguish.  Tomorrow we will rejoice in justice.  And all the world will know that this is a nation that God has blessed and will never forsake.  Let us be the first to proclaim that.


I have posted the above before on the anniversary of 9/11, and I like to do so anew each year to remind myself of my own reaction and what I observed. I knew no one directly effected by  the tragedy--and no one left untouched by it.

But as all the stories poured in, what I most loved to hear were those miracles, large and small, that our Lord orchestrated amidst that terrible day. The alarm clocks that didn't wake people up that morning. The viruses that kept healthy folks home. The heroes that waded through the wreckage for the chance to save a life.

Today, let's focus on the hope and heroism that rose from the ashes. Let's share the stories we've heard of God's provision on that day.


  1. Roseanna, such a beautiful, touching entry. Our nephew, Paul, has business in New York that day. He was to be in the office of a client that morning in the WTC. He was early and decided to stop a few blocks away for coffee and a bagel. Just before he reached the building, the first plane hit. Just stopping for that extra cup of coffee and a bagel kept him from being in the building and in harm's way because his client's office was on the same floor where the second plane hit. He has told us what he saw since then, but it took a while before he could talk about it. So many stories I've heard like that. People running late, getting delayed by a problem at home, being ill and staying home. Yes, God does have a plan for our lives, and He won't take us before the time He appointed for us. Our church is planning a day of Hope and Remembrance for Sunday.

  2. Aw, that made me cry. Lovely and so true. I saw a wonderful story of one of the survivors on The View this week. Her boss had told her to stay and wait for instructions, but she prayed and God told her, "Run!" She still had horrible years of pain and fear, but she's now free and praising God.

  3. Amen, Martha! That he would have been on the very floor it struck . . .

    And I love that the woman actually heard God tell her to run, Dina.

    I don't remember the exact numbers, but I'm amazed at how many fewer people were in the buildings than usual for that time of day. Something like thousands fewer--thousands that were made late or had some "inconvenience" pop up that saved their life. Gives me shivers every time.

  4. I LOVE this line, Roseanna: "I pray that as I pass a stranger I remember to remember that he is not a stranger to someone." (and you were 19 when you wrote that? WOW)

    A touching post - I'll be back to read more about the heroes and God's mercy in all this. Need that

  5. A few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Michael Hingson and Roselle. She was a middle-aged guide dog who not only led Michael to safety out of the towers, but when they were all running for their lives, that little yellow lab helped others blinded by the falling dust and debris.. Michael couldn't see a thing, but he trusted his dog to get him to safety.

    This is faith as I often describe it: As a blind man or woman steps off the curb trusting a dog to get them safely across to safety, so must we step into the traffic of life and trust God to get us safely to the end though we cannot see what is before us.

    For me, I often wonder if I would be writing Christian fiction now if not for the events of 9/11. But that’s another story.

    Laurie Alice Eakes

  6. My response is slightly different. I'm writing adventures & mysteries for kids today because of 9/11. The reason is that most of my industrial video clients no longer wanted programs produced because of the economic upheaval from 9/11. On 9/11 last year, I decided to come full circle and write a book for kids so they could understand what happened on 9/11. I had found that many who are 10 - 13 today know little or nothing about it. I have a blog page dedicated to the book. If you go there, be sure to scroll down and read about Vinny, a fire fighter from New York who was trapped in the rubble for 2 hours on 9/11.

    When the Lights Go Out page

    Video When the Lights Go Out

  7. Roseanna, what a touching post. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.