Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 12th

I am fortunate - I personally did not know any of those who lost their lives on that terrible day ten years ago; I imagine that is true for most folks.  So, I do not know the depths of loss, the ongoing grief, the pain that this anniversary causes for so many people.

But we all have experienced a 9/11 in our lives, or will at some point.  That moment, that experience, that
the-world-will-never-be-the-same-again kick in the gut.

My September 11th came on that February night 6 years ago when I got the phone call telling me that our son was being arrested for murdering his roommate at the residential facility he was at.

September 11th came for other folks when the attack on Pearl Harbor was carried out, for others the anniversary that brings back memories of loss is the day FDR died, when John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. 

Christchurch experienced September 11th when the earthquake hit, Japan is still reeling from its September 11th.  People in New Jersey, Maine, Texas know the september 11th feeling hurricanes and wildfires can bring. Residents and troops in Iraq and Afghanistan experience September 11th all too often, as do the families back home in a number of countries.  Lockerbie, Joplin, London, Spain, Tel Aviv, the Palestinian neighborhoods and camps, Rawanda, Sudan, Somalia  -  September 11th comes all too often, to far too many folks.

And it is tempting, like the disciples on the mountain where Jesus was transfigured, to stay locked in that place, that moment, that time.  Yes, memorials should be built; honor and respect paid to those who lost their lives and those who rushed into the burning buildings, the cockpits, the stairwells, the streets covered in ash; yes, we should remember. 

But I worry that we let 9/11 define us in ways that continue to damage us.  We continue to live under the fear of that day, and allow too many commentators and politicians use that day and those people to manipulate our fears for their own agendas.  We spend billions and billions for homeland security, when so many millions do not have the security of jobs, the comfort of a home, the ability to access medical care, the skills to get the education they need. 

We focus so much on September 11th, that we forget September 12th, the day that thousands of folks showed up in NYC, at the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania, to help with the searches, the clean-up, the recovery.  We forget September  12th, when parents got their kids up once again, and sent them to school, where teachers helped their students to grieve, to begin to understand, to begin to get on with life.  We forget September 12th, when churches were open for prayer, but also to serve the hungry, to shelter the homeless, to clothe the naked, to box up bibles to send to the prisons. 

It seems to me that as people of faith, we believe in a God who is always doing new things.  Who is
comforting the grieving, yet offering them hope and new life.  Who is helping dig through the rubble and who is building homes for those who have lost theirs in this economic recession.  Who is gathering up children when their nightmares wake them up in the middle of the night, and who encourages them to make friends with the Muslim kids who just started school.  Who refuses to let evil undo good, or hate to conquer love, or death to triumph over life.  Who is there on all our 9/11s, and who helps us step forth in faith, in hope, in trust
on September 12th.

We can, we must, remember and honor what happened on 9/11. 

I hope we are defined by what happened on September 12th and all the days that follow.

(c)  2011 Thom M. Shuman