I’ve struggled for a long time over today’s post. It’s a heavy day for many Americans as we remember the events of 12 years ago. Quite frankly, I didn’t want to revisit it, especially on my blog. I like to think of my blog as a safe haven, a place of quiet retreat and happiness. As I debated back and forth over what to blog about today, I thought about why I had started my blog in the first place. It was to learn the art of “thanks-living”. Gratitude leads the heart to joy and contentment regardless of the circumstances. It orients a life around God’s goodness, and ultimately all thanksgiving is an acknowledgement and trust in that truth. Thanks-living is learning to see with different eyes – and this is what I want more than anything – to see the world through God’s eyes. He is the Great Possibilitarian – seeing humanity’s long bloody history of hatred and willing to die to make us His family. And so I felt it was most in keeping with the purpose of this blog to remember Sept. 11, 2001 in all its pain and ugliness and see what is stirring beyond the ashes of ruin.
Like all the rest of the country I watched the events unfold in shocked horror, stunned at the loss of so many lives. The images in particular were very difficult for me to watch and I would replay them over and over in my mind. As I tried to grapple with the devastation, I started to look for refuge and another way to process what had happened rather than the images so prevalent on the news. In the aftermath of the attack, there was a brief interview I heard with a man who ran a business in one of the towers along with his brother. His brother and virtually everyone in the company was killed. I remembered watching him with tears streaming down his face as he explained they weren’t going to do business the same way anymore. He was done with making money he said. What was left of the company was going to be restructured and become a source-fund for the families of his employees so that he could take care of them since they had lost their providers. This man had a wonderful gift. In the midst of great personal loss, he understood the purpose of life and what was worth pursuing. On that day as we were jolted into awareness of the brevity of life, making money meant nothing. No one took their salary or status into eternity. Service towards others, caring for their needs, showing love – these are the ways to spend a life. I was so comforted by this man’s heart and that he chose to meet hatred and tragedy with loving service to those he could reach. The other image that was deeply impacting was a brief video clip of Britain’s reaction to the attack. I will never forget that as long as I live. They were packed outside Buckingham Palace by the thousands, waving our American flags, hands over their heart, weeping, and singing our national anthem. They became Americans that day and owned our grief. In the months and years following, I taught myself to think of these memories when I remembered 9-11. I would choose to remember that 9-11 taught us that life is precious and we should use it wisely – in service to others and with compassion.
Now it appears a grass-roots movement is growing up around these very themes. Cities all over the nation have started participating in Compassion Games – Survival of the Kindest. Responding to the tragedy 12 years ago, groups of citizens now choose to use this day as a catalyst for sharing compassion and random acts of kindness in their community for 10 days, ending on the UN International Day of Peace. Clothing drives, community dinners, prayers, food donations, and volunteering all characterize this day in cities all over the country. We are turning a day of loss and grief into an opportunity to pour care over our neighbors, show kindness to strangers, and rewrite this day as one of hope, compassion, and love. All over the country, we are finding that good always has the last word. I’m reminded of the lyrics from a song by John Michael Talbot.
“Behold now the kingdom, see with new eyes”
All over our nation people are rising up with courage and love and seeing with new eyes today.
Blessings to you,