Chief Outreach Officer and Global Impact Program Manager
September 11th, 2020
Nineteen years ago, so many of us remember exactly where we were and what we were doing that September morning when one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in history occurred on American soil. Four coordinated hi-jackings: two planes, AA flight 11 and UA flight 175, slammed into the Twin Towers of New York City’s World Trade Center, AA flight 77 was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, VA and UA flight 93 went down in a field near Shanksville, PA after passengers subdued the hijackers. Nearly three thousand victims lost their lives that day, along with 19 Al-Qaeda suicide bombers. We have all become acutely aware of the substantial, long-term, health consequences since those attacks and the severe toll taken on brave first responders and those who lived and worked in the area. With the perspective of many years now behind us, how might we envision healing in light of so much loss?
Grace in the Midst
I stood at the edge of life and called to My God.
These twin mountains are scorching the ridges of my soul.
My heart is weary, heavy with regret for words not spoken,
things done awkwardly, but time is fleeing me now
and my spirit is clearly under siege.
This ungrace came like a brutal thief, not under cloak of darkness,
but instead bright morning light.
Misguided rage brought me to this ledge.
My brother has become my foe and now we’re all feeling hot flames
against our backs.
I see God’s face in the stinging dust and the choking smoke,
in the twisted metal, putrid rubble, and the blistering heat.
Weddings and birthdays, graduations, reunions, picnics and celebrations,
first tooth, first steps, first words, first day of school...
We’ve missed so much.
Children growing up, parents returning to the earth and everything that
happens in between.
Life cut short, but we did not perish alone.
God never left any of us.
It’s been 19 years since that 9/11 pale blue morn.
Continue to call our names and lay your flowers.
Light your candles, come together and find your collective comfort.
Seek your solace and be brave for Peace now knows all our names.
The years keep passing with this sullen anniversary commemorated.
Heal in your deep chasms and pour balm into still open, festering places.
Raise the darkened veils; heroes have risen from these ashes and
strangers have become brethren.
Love one another without borders and boundaries,
without prejudice, malice, hatred or ugliness.
Love one another; leave justice and judgement for above.
Forgive the horrific violence and massive loss of lives.
These years pass minute by minute.
We heard your cathartic prayers sent up
through clasped fingers and tear stained faces.
We saw your shrines erected in remembrance and longing,
and now we see your flowers and flags laid by our manicured names
engraved in polished stone.
We embrace the watery memorial in the concrete spaces where we
19 years since that fiery morning...
Grace in the midst, holding tight to forgiveness,
Embracing tolerance and loving despite the pain.
Let your grief wane and your sorrows subside.
Let your anger melt into the warmth of a beautiful September sun.
Leave behind the old remnants that blanket your sky
because we are all free now, thousands of us are now free.
We jumped and we flew into angel arms.
We soared above ourselves and saw lives flash before weary eyes.
Divine prayers leapt from our multi-cultural, multi-lingual lips and our chorus of multi-faith, agnostic, even atheist breaths whispered praise.
Don’t let our passing cripple your stride and steal your song.
Let hope rise up and peace prevail.
Dance like it really matters and color your world anew.
Let anger and loss subside.
Let fear wash away, leaving courage in its wake.
Hatred doesn’t win and hope is a beautiful shield.
We were mothers and fathers, friends and colleagues, brothers, sisters,
first responders, LGBT persons, strangers, daughters, sons, husbands and
wives...diverse humans thrown together in a collective tomb.
God remembers us all.
You remember us all.
It has not been easy keeping our torches lit,
holding aging memories against the breast.
The toll has been heavy...palpable these 6,935 days and counting,
because we are always counting...minute by minute.
You remember our ways, our laughter, our dreams, our words,
but laugh again for our sakes.
Rebuild your lives and celebrate all the new moments.
Find incredible joy, despite the sad refrains of loss and angst,
remorse and death.
Our memories are kept sacred and protected in the recesses of your spirit
and the wellsprings of your heart.
There is such sweetness in what was, but real power in the right now.
Heal. Live. Be.