Never Forget – Where were you on 9/11/01?

Sculpture that originally stood very near the Twin Towers. Relocated now closer to the Staton Island Ferry, you can see the holes made by falling debris on 9-11, melted metal and twisted pieces.

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

I just happened to be watching the news while having my coffee at 9 a.m. The reporters on the morning show said that there was breaking news from the World Trade Center in New York City.  An airliner had run into the North Tower. What a horrible accident! What a strange accident.

The pilots and co-pilots must have lost control of the plane, or had heart attacks simultaneously – or some other freak incident that made it impossible to avoid hitting the building.  I was listening to the commentator suggesting that it may have been aircraft trouble when I walked into the kitchen to get a bagel. It may have even been the angle of the sun, he was saying.

Then another commercial airplane hit the South Tower.

By the following cup of coffee, I would live in a different nation.

We all would.

The flames of the first tower hit  licked upward through the massive cavernous hole with tragedy.  After the second plane hit,  the giant plumes of black smoke burned with evil.

With the attack on the second tower, the news reporters knew. The people on the streets of New York City, all gazing upward into the endlessly blue September sky? They then  knew, too.

Watching the towers burn,  I stood with my hand over my mouth, not daring to breathe; the air too thick with denial and then dread to inhale. I am not seeing this…I cannot be seeing this.

And then…I am seeing it. But before I could process it, another breaking news report…

The Pentagon! Another airplane has crashed into the Pentagon!

This was not random. This was not an accident.

I ran into the next room to wake my brother, who was visiting my family at the time. The Pentagon! I yelled at him, until he opened his eyes. The twin towers and the Pentagon!

My brother and I, like so many Americans, watched the news all day. We smoked one cigarette after another, even though I didn’t allow smoking in the house, because it didn’t seem to matter anymore.

Our hearts heavy, we watched and cried and touched each other on the shoulder from time to time to make sure that we were real.

We saw people jumping out of buildings and delicate papers flutter from the same floors, watched rescue workers walk into towers that would soon collapse.

Like millions upon millions the world over, we tuned in find city blocks in ruin, the security command of our nation burning,  and a giant hole in a Pennsylvania field made by an airplane that hit the ground so hard that it nearly vaporized.

Terrorist attack. Our country – the greatest nation in the world – was under deliberate and devastating attack.

When I had taken my children to school that morning, they were careless first and third graders. When I picked them up that afternoon and they excitedly handed me their finger-paint artwork and spelling work from the day, it hit me: My beloved daughters would never know a world in which America was fireproof, bulletproof. As they were small, we tried keeping them from news coverage, but the climate of the world had changed.

In the days, weeks and months that followed, the world was justifiably obsessed with the events from that day.

On the morning of September 12, 2001, I bought a copy of the New York Times from a newsstand and pored over every page. For months, every magazine featured stories of the innocent victims, heroic responders, and of course, the mass murderers of terror.

And then – even as those in the nations that sponsored the terror joyfully partied in the streets – neighborhoods across America became a sea of waving red, white and blue.

Political parties? What differences? It was in our similarities that we banded together. We were Americans. I could not imagine how soon all would be forgotten (and even defended) by so many.

And each year, on September 11th, there is grieving, as there should be. There is remembrance, because there needs to be.  I know that people move on because they have to – that horrors like the Holocaust and 9/11 cannot be fixated upon to the detriment of moving forward.  I understand that.

But neither should they fade from consciousness, lest a new generation lack compassion for the events and victims’ families for whom “moving on” has meant permanent loss.  It was not a freak accident or the angle of the sun that altered our history on 9/11 – but evil, pure and simple.

Never forget.


The World Gone Crazy, but we still have The Friend

I took this picture at the Little Chapel in NYC at the base of Ground Zero. The banner was decorated by children to cheer the emergency workers and volunteers during the recovery. The Little Chapel, directly next to the Twin Towers was virtually untouched by the carnage that day.

By: Jana Greene

“Judas (not Iscariot) said: ‘Master, why is it that you are about to make yourself plain to us but not the world?’ (in reference to ascending to heaven).

“Because it is a loveless world, “said Jesus. “A sightless world.  If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and the Father will love him – we’ll move right into the neighborhood!  Not loving me means not keeping my words.  The message you are hearing isn’t mine.  It’s the message of the Father who sent me.”   John 14:22-27 (MSG)

Over the past few weeks, I have felt like the world were falling apart.  Losing hope, like Jesus is not welcome in many neighborhoods.  As we are approaching a Presidential  election, media coverage (largely unbalanced) is stepping up the mud-slinging and Americans are picking mud off the ground and  hurling it at each other.  Civil rights issues are at the forefront, and people and businesses with belief systems that have been practiced and adhered to for centuries are being sucked into the vortex under the guise of “civility”.

It is un-hip now to be a Christian, no matter which side of one particular debate that Christian might fall on. That’s the crazy thing – Christians as a whole are slowly but surely starting to be persecuted  in America – not by bodily threat, but by that thing that Americans have long disdained: intolerance.  A witch hunt for historically conservative people is still a witch hunt.

There is even a movement to make “all religion illegal”.  It is still a small and restless, largely underground phenomenon, but I can assure you, it exists.  I have seen the evidence with my own eyes, in my own town.   The frightening thing is that such a thing doesn’t seem  out of the realm of reality these days.

Allow me to describe the current government trajectory as I see it with my earthly eyes:  It is growing into a massive,  monstrous machine that sucks the civil liberties of the masses into a grinder in the name of its own twisted definition of the ‘greater good’.  In the end of digestion, this ravenous machine – having  gorged on the constitutional sacrifices of Americans, craps out a tiny brick of pseudo-rights for a small segment of society.  That’s positively un-American.  And yes, that’s my opinion.

So far as I know, we are all still entitled to have one.  But leaning too much on my passionate opinions and too little on my faith doesn’t usually go well.

Everyone seems angry with everyone else right now, myself included.  I hate that feeling, that angst.  Because it comes from a place of fear.  I need to take a step back and breathe, and give my earthly eyes a rest.

It seems to be American against American, in chat rooms, on blog pages, on Facebook, even in our homes, our neighborhoods.  It is so easy to get focused on the manifestations of evil all around – the horrors that took place in a movie theater in Colorado, the epidemic of human trafficking – which takes in our own country!  The distractions of feeling politically passionate because of movements and issues, and freaking out with fear about the possibilities.  The longing for justice, because it is so out of whack. I get so wrapped up in my emotional frustrations with the entire world, which  are largely out of my control, that I forget that none of it is a surprise to my God.   I forget that He himself said that it is a loveless world, and that even when it feels completely out of control, He did not leave us all here stranded.

“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you,” Jesus continues in the verse.  ” The Friend, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you.  he will remind you of all the things I have told you.  I’m leaving you well and whole (on earth) – that’s my parting gift to you.  Peace.  I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left – feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset.  Don’t be distraught.”

Distraught doesn’t even begin to TOUCH how I’ve been feeling lately.  But that’s what happens when you look around the world for peace, instead of exclusively  within – where He has placed it.  Within, where He gives us The Friend, who in turn fills us up so that we can love on a loveless world.  The Friend, to guide us through a sightless world.  Hearing the message of the Father, who IS love, instead of talking heads on the news, and instead of the voices of hatred.

Because I will worship God on my knees forever and ever, and no law can stop me.  The government didn’t give me the right to pray and worship and it cannot take that right away.   It is a right endowed by my Creator, who will is not subject to the rules of man, and who gives a peace that passes understanding to ALL who ask for His redemption.  There is also a lot of beauty still in the world.  Because the Holy Spirit is still on this planet and within us, there is still majesty, purity, grace, hospitality, and love – so much love.  God fills all of us imperfect, cracked vessels with his love in order to love on a world that is falling apart.  My hope is in Jesus.

Amen and God Bless America!