Dear All Saints:
Most of us have had occasions in our lives, often sad or traumatic, when we can remember exactly where we were or what we were doing and with whom or even what we were wearing. As a nation, we have communal moments like that – the Kennedy assassination, the moon landing, the Challenger disaster, and, most certainly, September 11, 2001.
The crystal blue September sky. The co-worker whose spouse called to say that a small commuter plane had run into the World Trade Center. The dawning realization that it was not an accident. Evacuating Old City in Philadelphia because it was feared to be a target. Packed yet silent subways and commuter trains. My husband calling to say that the towers had fallen and my brain’s inability to compute that until I saw it replayed, over and over again once I arrived home.
For those living in and around New York at that time, the recollections are more visceral, first-hand. Fifty-six of our Hoboken neighbors died that day. Others continue to bear the physical after-effects of inhaled dust and smoke. Certainly, the emotional wounds will never be fully healed.
Yes, these memories will never be erased. Nor will the events in the twenty years since with war and loss of life that continues even now with the final U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Yet we believe that God holds all things in loving yet powerful hands. We may not understand all that we have witnessed and experienced, but we can rest in the love of our Creator who stooped down to dwell with us for a while, who knew suffering and death and loss. And we can hold before God the lives that were lost, those people we knew and those whose names are etched into bronze parapets at the 9/11 Memorial.
The surfacing of traumatic and painful memories is hard. I invite us to be especially kind and understanding with each other in these days ahead. Twenty years has passed in the blink of an eye for some, but for others, life without their loved ones has seemed an eternity.
Blessings to you and yours,