We in America had been really sheltered up to that point. We saw bombings on the news, but they were so far away, in another country, so it didn't seem real. It was just television for most of us. Those things couldn't occur here. We were immune.
Until we weren't.
On September 11, 2001 I was at work, when someone rushed up to me and told me an airplane had hit a building in New York City. We all ran to find TV or internet coverage of the news, and when it went from horrible to unspeakable to unbelievable, I left and went home: I couldn't stand it. I wept for days. I'm weeping now.
So many lost. So many lives changed.
Today as I drove in, I heard a story on NPR about the death of Father Mychal Judge that day. The homily given at his funeral was exceptional, and I wept again in my parking lot. The story is worth listening to. Go ahead, do it now - I'll wait.
I have an aunt whose birthday is Pearl Harbor Day, December 7. My birthday is September 11. My aunt and I have shared having a birthday commemorating where Thing Changed. For her generation, there was resolution: ten years later, WWII was over and things were much brighter for all.
For we, the 9/11 generation, the misery goes on and on. Since that day, I had a phrase stuck in my head, "Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold". (It's from a poem by one of my favorites, W B Yeats.) And it's true, it seems that things have fallen apart around us - my birthday was just the beginning. We are engulfed in 2 wars that seem to have no end, and it seems much of the world hates us. The economy has gone to hell world wide. People are losing their homes. There is mass unemployment. I have struggled with this myself - I had two long stretches of unemployment this decade, totaling 21 months. I developed a brain tumor. My son and my family have struggled with his mental illness. We make less actual money (even less, adjusted for inflation) than we did in 2001, and our expenses are so much greater. Times are so hard.
It's so easy for me to give in to despair. Despair, and fear of what might happen. What if terrorists somehow make a major strike again? What if this recession/depression lasts for another 10 years? What if my health fails or I lose my job? What if some political extremists take power? What if Curly takes his life? What if - ?
And yet - I can't give in to fear. Fear strangles the life out of living. There is a great quote from the movie "The Shawshank Redemption" which says, "Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free."
I don't want to be a prisoner.
And so, I hope.
I hope. I hope.
And I hope you do too.
So you'll have to forgive me if this year, I don't watch the documentaries and TV specials on 9/11. It's not that I don't care - I really DO care. I care a lot. It's just that I'm tired of crying about it, and I'm ready to move on. With hope for better things.
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Blessings to you all - in hope.