Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reposts: 9/11 a Decade Later

Today we remember back ten years, to that day that indeed lives in infamy...that day that we were glued to images that will never fade from our nation's memory, seared into America's psyche. Today we thank our service men and women who have fought valiantly to keep us free and safe. Today we mourn with those who still mourn, remembering innocent loved ones who lost their lives this day, a decade ago.

This afternoon after attending the community church in our small town due to transmission issues with our van, Elizabeth and I followed her September 11th tradition of watching the film Remember Me (2010), starring Pierce Brosnan and Robert Pattinson.

So here are some reposts that tell our experiences of 9/11 and recalls prayers we can pray again and again for unity in our country.

God be with us all as we reject hate and embrace love, this day and forevermore....

Every American over twelve years old remembers what he or she was doing on the beautiful Indian-summer morning of September 11, 2001. For our family, it was a time of transition, a time of anxiety and hard physical work. We were moving that week out of our home of ten years located near Balboa Park in one of the older neighborhoods of San Diego. Keith had lovingly restored our 1914 Craftsman home, tearing off the back third of the house and rebuilding a gorgeous, sun-filled kitchen with a breakfast nook, a laundry area, and a master bedroom and bath. besides tearing down the old plaster of the other two bedrooms and refinishing with drywall and fresh paint, he also refinished the 50-year-old oak floors which he matches perfectly with new oak in the addition area. After a completely new roof and work on the block foundation, the house was painted a lovely grey with burgundy and white trim, and I re-landscaped the flower beds with lavender and roses, hollyhocks and wildflowers.

We were leaving a labor of love behind but looking forward to our new home, a mountain cabin at the edge of pristine meadowlands, surrounded on all sides by mountains, with half an acre for our boys to run and play. After living for years in the city, Keith and I were both glad to return with our family to rural roots, how we ourselves had grown up in San Diego County.

Past midnight on September 10, Keith and I were finishing the packing and the cleaning before picking up our four sleepy kids (ages 9, 6, 4, and 18 months) from my parents' place and driving to Mount Laguna. My parents had a small 600 sq. ft. cabin on top of the mountain where we were planning to live for a week or so until we could move into our new mountain home in Pine Valley, at the base of the mountain. By 2 AM we were settling sleeping children into beds and sleeping bags and tumbled into bed ourselves around 3 AM.

At 6 AM, my dad called us, in tears as he related the news of the 9-11 attacks. We were out of bed in an instant, trying frantically to tune in a news station on the unreliable "rabbit ears" that was our only way of gaining a TV signal. We could tune in fuzzy images only, but through the static, we could see what was happening -- just as the second plane hit the World Trade Center. The kids slept on, exhausted by their interrupted sleep, while Keith and I watched what we could through the fuzz, listening more than watching most of the time.

As the morning wore on, Keith got ready and left for work, and I took care of the kids, watching what I could -- learning of the Pentagon attack, and of the crash in the fields of Pennsylvania. I watched as the President visibly blanched when the news was whispered into his ear during a visit to a Florida school. As all flights were grounded, I wondered where my brother, a pilot, was; at least he didn't fly for the airlines that had been hijacked. I remember sitting in the red upholstered chair, listening and trying to make out images from fuzzy TV signal as I nursed B. Brushing my finger along his cheek, I thought of all the children who had lost a parent this day. I prayed, tears running down my cheek.

This week as the poetry class I'm facilitating for Brave Writer started, I asked the families to start our adventure of poetry with some song lyrics. Remembering those days after 9-11, three songs come to mind: U2's "Beautiful Day" and "Walk On" and Sting's "Fragile." The latter is the one I taught this week in memory of the attacks in 2001. Although it was written before 9-11, it was actually recorded in the UK on the very date of the attacks, and I think they are a fitting response to the nightmarish events of that day. We are all fragile, just bone and sinew held together by soul. Although it takes so little to destroy a human, it requires a great deal more to remove humanity from the hearts and minds that planned and committed these horrendous acts.

By Sting

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow’s rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay

Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime’s argument
That nothing comes from violence
And nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star Like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are How fragile we are

I think we all remember with sharp clarity what we were doing as the events of September 11, 2001, exploded across our nation's psyche. For our family, we were in a time of transition, having worked until the wee small hours of September 11 packing up our belongings from our former house in the city to move them into storage for a couple of weeks until we could move into our mountain cabin. Here's my post about what we experienced, 3000 miles away from the real action yet close in our hearts and souls as tragic event after tragic event engulfed our nation: Remembering September 11.

This morning I woke all too aware of the date. I watched a U-Tube video of the happenings of that horrific day, eight years ago, posted on Facebook by the wife of our then-pastor. But as the four kids and I gathered around the school table and the living room for Morning Prayer, we prayed this prayer from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:

For Our Country:
ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Later I also prayed another Collect, this one just a page or two past the above prayer:

For the Unity of God’s People:
O GOD, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace; Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly, union and concord: that as there is but one Body and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the unity that we possessed in the aftermath of the horrific events of 9-11, of a terror-stricken and grief-laden country after which we came together as perhaps we have never done before and certainly haven't since -- may that unity of purpose as a nation return without terror as the cause. May we work with and not against each other. May we strive for the common good and not for personal gain. May we speak truth, rather than half-truths and distortions masquerading as truth. May accusations of "Socialist" and "Nazi" not be bandied about lightly, for tragedy and murder lurk behind those words just as they do behind the word "terrorist."

There's that old 70's song that comes to mind every once in a while, and it's as true of our nation now as it was in 1776 during our fight for independence, in 1865 as our country overcame civil war, in 1941 after Pearl Harbor, and as we remember today in 2001: "United we stand; divided we fall." So it was on 9/11, and so it is today.

Praying for our country, now and always,

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