Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where Were You on 9/11?

Tuesday, September 11, 2001 found me sitting in our homeschool classroom with our youngest son - aged 13. We had attended Mass that morning and had just started digging into assignments for the day. My husband was out of town and the house was library quiet. When we heard of the hit on the first tower, we turned on the television and watched in horror as the second tower was struck. At the onset my mind just wouldn't wrap around what was happening - surely it was just pilot error that had lead to the first impact.Then came the collapse of both towers. Next came the impact at the Pentagon and finally the diverted plane went down in a Pennsylvania field...

After the final impact, nothing could distract us from being glued to the television - we needed to stay informed, needed to figure out what on earth was happening. Confusion reigned. When the live feeds turned to previously aired clips and analysis began to become repetitive, we drove to our little rural parish church, St Elizabeth, about 6 miles away. It was cool, dim and safe there. We couldn't get close enough to the Lord Jesus Christ in the tabernacle - so we knelt on the Prie Dieu for altar boys, right next to the altar. There my mind slowed down - we were safe! I don't know how long we stayed there, but it was quite a while - we just didn't want to leave - but finally, it was time to get back home.

I remember the eerie silence of the skies afterward - we live near the route to our local airport and seeing/hearing planes is something to which we are accustomed. Sometimes we can count a dozen or more jet streams at a time - the kids like to break the previous record. But all of a sudden, the sky was a clear blue - no white trails of vapor to be seen. It was a time of reflection - about mortality, the cruelty of man against man, and the power of God's love and protection.

When the planes began flying again, it chilled my soul - that stone cold feeling you get out of fear of the unknown. Yet those feelings soon passed. We humans are wonderfully adaptable and eventually we began to find normalcy once more. So here we are, 12 years later, perched precariously at the edge of war with Syria. Al Qaeda still figures into the mix and continues hostility toward westerners and Christians, in particular. And yet prayer and faith sustain us.

In 2007, my family and I visited New York City. We stayed in the Financial District and passed by the gaping hole, where the twin towers once stood - every day for a week. The news images didn't do the destruction justice - what a monstrous reminder of the attack! Although our home in Kentucky is geographically distant, each year on the anniversary of 9/11, the emotions come bubbling to the surface again. Yet life goes on; families grieved, and a nation came together. Carriage rides through Central Park, Times Square, and the spectacular view from the Empire State building are still a wonder to behold. In resilience, we continue.

But what do we take away from tragedies such as this? As earthly mortals we live our lives vulnerable, yet filled with hope. We have something that can't be taken away - the security of being the children of the Living God. He alone is the Author of life and death. His Kingdom is our final goal. Knowing this, for a fact, diminishes our earthly fears. And New York City continues to be the city that never sleeps and her citizens have moved ahead. They, and we, will never forget but will find comfort knowing our life on earth is a transitional step. What we do here determines our lodgings for Eternity. With Eternal Life will come complete peace, joy, and pure love.

On this anniversary of a national tragedy, let us pray for all involved: New Yorkers, citizens of Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania as well as all Americans - but also for those who lurk in the depths of depravity, committing atrocities on fellow humans. May they have a change of heart and seek God!

Where were you? What were you doing on 9-11-2001? What memories can you share?