Today was a difficult. Ten years later, the images transmitted on the television that morning are still fresh and painful. I woke and turned on the television, got ready for work at the secular job in San Francisco. Nothing was out of the ordinary that day until I glanced at the screen and saw the second plane go into the tower. My boys thought it was a new “Die Hard” movie, but the eldest said, “No, I think this is real.” News came of a plane going down in a field in Pennsylvania, then another plane into the Pentagon.
What on earth was happening?
At first, I and many others thought the first plane was a horrible accident, a plane off course and in trouble, but the second plane? These were deliberate attacks.
2,996 people died that day, and many more since then as we proclaimed Iraq our enemy and hunted Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the attacks.
Ten years have passed, and what have we learned?
We learned to be fearful, to be mistrusting, to look at criticism of our government as unpatriotic, even treasonable. We became gluttons in consumerism – our vehicles got larger as the war over control of oil fields waged on and our houses became mini-castles and McMansions. We spent more than we could make or afford. And the wars waged on. The bubble burst on those supersized dreams and people started to lose their jobs, one after another. For me, it was three in a row. We elected a new president, we were full new hope and optimism, and yet the wars waged on.
I feel as anxious and scared as I did ten years ago.
The cloud of ash and smoke that lingered over the Twin Towers in Manhattan blanketed spirits over the entire United States; the date of the attacks became an emergency call for peace and understanding.
An emergency call to God.
God was a first responder.
On that day ten years ago, the busy, crowded, city of New York was transformed. Already an exciting and vital part of our culture, it became even more vital and I watched with tears as New Yorkers reached out to one another, as a nation pulled together and our regional and cultural differences melted. God had placed 911 calls to each of our hearts and steered us toward our ultimate goal – to live out the mandate given to us by His Son – that we love one another as He loves us and love our neighbors as we love ourselves; to offer a helping hand to an office worker scrambling out of one of the Towers, or giving a firefighter a cup of coffee was giving the hand or cup to Jesus. To stop and listen to the stories of that day was listening to the Lord who was there with each of the people who died and survived, with those left behind to continue and remember and not let it happen again.
What have we learned?
We cannot be without peace. We cannot grow without peace and we cannot change unless we love.
I fervently pray that we, you, me, every one of us, learn to live out the new commandment.
And that we never have to make a 9-1-1 call like those we made on September 11, 2001, again.