Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering September 11

by Susanne DietzePrayer CandlesImage by Ame Otoko via Flickr

Saturdays normally serve as days for book recommendations here at the Inkwell, but today is the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks committed on September 11, 2001. Our hearts wouldn’t let us allow the day to pass without making mention of the tragedy.

We all remember where we were when we learned of the terrorist attacks. In that instant, something altered in me. Some might suggest my innocence was shattered, but I don’t think so. It didn’t take 9/11 or wars and rumors of wars to teach me that life was fragile and my arms were too feeble to protect those I love.

But 9/11 was a bit different. What I experienced was more like an internal earthquake. The fault line already existed within me, hidden and deep, but on that day, it made itself known in a painful rift.

We all have our memories of 9/11. Mine flood back with the smells of fresh asphalt, since our street was being repaved, and Elmer’s glue, since I worked on as many cut-and-paste projects as necessary to keep my preschooler disinterested in turning on the TV. I remember starting that sultry morning feeling a bit better rested than usual, because my husband got up with our newborn two hours earlier so I could sleep. And in the nine years since then as I’ve watched my baby grow, I’ve often thought of the children his age, born after their fathers died in the attacks, who are now dotted through dozens of fourth grade classrooms, living reminders of love and loss.

I also return to 9/11 in staircases. I knew a young woman who was in the World Trade Center at the time of the plane crashes. Her account of escaping down the stairwell is one that haunts me every time I choose to forsake a building’s elevator in favor of exercise. When I take the stairs at the hospital or a parking garage, my mind goes to that young lady’s description of her escape, one narrow concrete stair at a time.

The memories come entwined in the gruesome clutches of fear.

I don’t think I’m alone. Since that day, fear has taken root in the fissures of our psyches, individual and national. It’s nothing new, perhaps, as fear has long played a role in advertising medications that we’ll surely die without, or selling us alarm systems or nuclear-fallout bunkers. But fear is perhaps a bit more front and center in society these days, socially acceptable, and there’s plenty to be hysterical about. Financial crises, global warming, war, and of course terrorism. Always, since 9/11, terrorism. In school, my children are now taught lockdown procedure in addition to fire drills, in the event that a weapon-wielding attacker storms the campus. Just in case.

It’s enough to scare a little kid, and it’s certainly more than enough to scare me. But whenever the smell of hot asphalt or a back staircase takes me back to the morning of 9/11, I know what I have to do. I cling to something which hasn’t changed since 9/11, the one thing that hasn’t changed since the creation of the world.

God. He’s still in control, He’s still firm ground, He still reigns over chaos.

The world may be fragile, ugly, and scary, but it’s also full of joy, wonder, and love, and God’s arms are strong enough to protect, preserve, and save. And even though terrible things have happened to us and those we love, God doesn’t want us to fear such things. He wants us to trust Him.

In his book Fearless, Max Lucado urges us to recall God’s instructions that we not be afraid. To take courage, take heart, and trust in God, even when we’re scared to death.

So, see to it that you are not alarmed (Mt. 24:6 NIV).

…The words call for additional attention, special focus, extra resolve. Isn’t this what Christ is asking of us? In this dangerous day, on this Faberge-fragile globe, with financial collapse on the news and terrorists on the loose, we have every reason to retreat into bunkers of dread and woe.
But Christ says to us, “See to it that you are not alarmed” (NIV).
"Keep your head down and don’t panic” (MSG).
“See that you are not troubled” (NKJV).
“Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev 2:10 RSV).
Make sure the hull of your convictions can withstand the stress of collisions.
As we grapple to make sense of the tragedies we’ve seen and experienced, we mustn’t forget God loves us. He’s promised to never leave or forsake us. It’s our job to shore up our faith, so no matter what comes, we trust that He reigns over everything. Even when we’re afraid.

To read "Responding to Islam with a Christ Colored Pen," please see Dina Sleiman’s post tomorrow.

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  1. Very nice, Susie. I also can't wait to see Dina's post on Islam. She has such a heart for the Islamic people.

    Today is Patriot's day. A day that should focus on the everyday heroes that, when given a choice, choose for the common good. It breaks my heart that the issue of Kuran burning and the placement of an Islamic mosque will mar today's remembrance. Well, the news media will mar it, anyway.

    Like you, I think of 9/11 almost everyday because I work on the 5th floor and I choose to take the steps as often as possible. When I am out of breath and my legs are burning, I think of those heroes who ran up the stairs carrying 100lbs of equipment.

    Sept 11 was the day I thought I'd never be able to laugh again. It took awhile. Good and bad consequences have followed, haven't they?

    When I was in school, we practiced emergency evacuation in the event of a nuclear bombing. So I guess things haven't changed that much.
    Thanks Susie! A very thoughtful post. I'd love to read Max Lucado's FEARLESS one of these days, too.

  2. Susanne, this was so beautiful. It really touched me.

    Recently I've been seeing signs. "Never forget 9/11. Stay angry. Never forgive" Or something along those lines. That grieves me. It's not a Godly attitude.

    But we should remember the sadness. We should remember the seriousness. I watched the second plane crash live. That was perhaps the most shocking moment of my life. I received a call from my daughter's school asking me to come pick her up immediately. We live near the world's largest Naval port, and no one knew at the time what the targets might be. No, I'll never forget, but I will forgive.

    The only good thing about 9/11 was that it took America out of our blithe little bubble and put us in touch with much of the world that lives with terror and violence daily.

  3. Great post! Everyone is writing wisdom today, and it is such a relief to respond with hope even in fear.

  4. Good morning, everyone. Thanks so much for sharing your insightful thoughts.

    I confess that this was a difficult post for me to write. I struggled with wanting to write too much.

    I wanted to write about forgiveness and discuss the planned burnings of the Qur'an. I wanted to write about the heroes and victims and talk about the memorials that will be built by this time next year (in PA and NY, as well as 1000 other US sites featuring steel from the World Trade Center).

    But I ended up focusing on fear and my personal response to that horrible day because, well, that's where the Lord led me. Fear is such a huge part of most of our lives. Every so often I need the reminder that my arms are too small but God's arms aren't, and He's mighty and strong to save.

  5. Deb, I'm so glad you mentioned the heroes. The fire fighters, police, clergy, military, pilots, flight attendants, passengers on flight 93, and every person who risked their life or grabbed a hand on 9/11 should never, ever be forgotten. All those who sifted through the rubble and searched deserve out praise, too.

    Thanks, Deb.

  6. Dina, how terrifying that you saw the second plane crash. And getting that call to pick up your daughter.

    We don't live on the east coast, so by the time the sun rose at our house, the planes had already crashed. As I mentioned, my husband got up with the baby. When I woke up, he had the news on, which is something he never did, but he said he just felt like he should turn the TV on. I'll never forget the look on his face.

    I, too, am grieved by the hostility I see around me. I pray for Godly wisdom to reign in our hearts, to rule our words, and guard our actions.

    Thanks, Dina. I look forward to your post tomorrow.

  7. Hi adge! Glad to see you today! I pray that hope and confidence in the Lord is a choice we all make, especially in those times of great fear.


  8. We got a call that morning at the church where we were in the middle of our weekly corporate prayer time, letting us know that the second plane had just hit the second tower. It all seemed so unreal. Sometimes, like when I watch an old movie and the towers appear in the NY skyline, it still does.
    Susie, you did an excellent job with this post on such a difficult day. Thank you for sharing.
    Dina, I hope everyone reads your post tomorrow and passes it on to anyone they know who has forgotten that the Muslims are not our enemies. For we do not war against flesh and blood...
    Jesus died for them, too.

  9. Niki, thanks for the essential reminder that our enemy is Satan. It gives our enemy such glee when we spew hatred and foster unforgiveness. That doesn't mean our wounds don't run deep, nor does it mean that some tragedies are too horrific to bear. But God still reigns over the universe, His power as undiminished now as it was when He created it.

    Thanks for sharing, Niki.


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