Friday, September 11, 2015

Remembering 9/11

This is a repost--many times over--but a bit of a tradition. During this week when I've been so focused on promoting and marketing a new book, it seems vital to pause to remember a day that changed all our lives forever.

I remembering thinking on September 12, 2001, "What stories are going to matter now? How will they ever look anything but trivial?" But we always need stories. Mine, however, may have changed a bit after that day. Because suddenly it wasn't just an academic idea anymore that life can change in an instant. That enemies lurked. But that even in that darkness, God is still there. A theme you'll find in much of my writing.

In this piece, published by a local newspaper that week, you'll see I pray that this would wake us up to recognize, and stop tolerating, evil. Looking at the world today, I fear we've fallen back into a slumber, since it isn't our buildings tumbling today.

But it's the Church. Today, I pray this same prayer again.


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.
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.
- See more at: http://roseannamwhite.blogspot.com/2011/09/reality-union-hope-from-911.html#sthash.cODtO3eq.dpuf

2 comments:

  1. I'm concerned about your comment to "recognize, and stop tolerating, evil". This does not seem at all to relate to the teachings of Jesus. The sermon on the mount is supposed to help us see the world with different eyes, but you seem to have American eyes. Jesus wants us to love our enemies, not to resist the evil person. This is radical, strange and hard to understand unless Jesus has given us new eyes to see what he sees. You blog posts do not illustrate that you have the eyes of Jesus. If I have misunderstood, I apologize, and please be more careful with your words. You talk a lot about taking a stand, but Jesus said, blessed are the meek. Is taking a stand what Jesus would do?

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    Replies
    1. There's also a big difference between being meek (which literally means "power under control") and turning a blind eye when people are mistreated, persecuted, and brutalized around you. I don't mean "take a stand" as in, go to the door with your weapons. I mean "take a stand," like stop just shaking your head when you hear about horrors--find a way to volunteer, to serve, to even just tell your elected representatives that certain things aren't okay. Loving your enemies doesn't mean letting them get worse and worse--it means trying to help them see the truth of God's love and be better and better.

      Jesus would--and did--absolutely take a stand. He overturned the money tables. He challenged the authorities. He healed when he knew well it would get him in trouble. Everywhere he went, he took a stand and called out the evil around him, rebuking it. THAT is exactly what I'm talking about. Not a physical battle stance. A spiritual one.

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