Tag Archives: World Trade Center

Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own

By Brendan Scott

If time heals all wounds, do you think all the wounds have been healed?  This, the morning after, a decade later.

Many of the students I taught at the Inter-American School in Xela have never known a world with the Twin Towers.  One student, Sebastian, a squirrely little boy who would rather make his classmates laugh than kick in the winning run in kickball, was born in Canada on the day of the 9-11 attacks.  His life will always be strangely connected to the attacks.  He came into the world as so many were taken away.

Last year, as he celebrated his birthday at IAS, I asked his mom what it was like for her on that day.  She told me the doctors didn’t let her know what was going on and that for her the day had been a true blessing.  Sebastian, is a true blessing.  His laugh and the myriad of nicknames he dumped on me always made teaching him PE enjoyable.  Life has gone on.  But I know many of us cannot forget what happened.

10 years later and many of us are still wondering how we move forward from here.

September 11th, 2001 started like any Tuesday for me.  I was a month in to my new school at Battle Mountain High School, my new life in Vail, Colorado.  I was lonely but I didn’t want to make friends, because I figured I would just move off in a year for college.  I had built up a hard shell of isolationism.  The move from Tulsa to Vail hurt me deeply.  The loss I felt when I left the friends I had known almost my whole life redefined who I was.  I was no longer the leader at my church.  I felt like a nobody.  I felt weak.  The move took away my confidence and sadly I didn’t want to find it again.  I felt I was just okay floating along until college.

As the day unfolded on the televisions, which were tuned in to the news in all of my classes, our identity as a nation changed.  We were once independent and indestructible. As the towers crumbled, I knew we’d never be the same.  I knew I needed people, sadly a knowledge I didn’t act on right away.  And as the months passed I believe the entire nation realized it needed one another as well.  The hard shell of our nation was cracked, if only just a little, that day.  As we mourned the loss of so many people, we came together.  We were hurt.  And we changed.

September 12th, 2001 was the day we all picked ourselves up and began to move forward.  We started to change, but what change has really occurred?

Maybe you were one of the first responders.  Maybe September 12, 2001 was your second day digging through the rubble of the collapsed buildings.  Maybe you were one of the first to enlist in our nations armed forces.  Maybe you were one of the first to be deployed overseas to Afghanistan.  Maybe you were one of the first to march into Bagdad and liberate an oppressed people.  Maybe you were one of the pastors who comforted those who lost loved ones.  Maybe you were, like me, just a student who stared at the television and watched the world change.  I watched and watched and watched.  I was drawn in by the stories of loss, horror, and hope.  By nightfall on the 12th, 82 people had been confirmed dead and 11 people had been rescued.  I believe we’d realized that sometimes you can’t make it on your own.

U2’s lead singer, Bono, wrote the song Sometimes You can’t Make It On Your Own while dealing with the loss of his father, but as it seems to happen the words speak to a deeper truth.

Tough, you think you’ve got the stuff
You’re telling me and anyone
You’re hard enough

You don’t have to put up a fight
You don’t have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go in alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

We fight all the time
You and I… that’s alright
We’re the same soul
I don’t need… I don’t need to hear you say
That if we weren’t so alike
You’d like me a whole lot more

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

I know that we don’t talk
I’m sick of it all
Can, you, hear, me, when, I, sing
You’re the reason I sing
You’re the reason why the opera is in me

Hey now, still gotta let ya know
A house doesn’t make a home
Don’t leave me here alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you that makes it hard to let go
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own
Sometimes you can’t make it
Best you can do is to fake it
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

If time really does heal all wounds, I think 10 years later we would all be fine.  But people still hurt.  People still see today, ten years after the first day after, as if September 11th, 2001 was yesterday.  10 years later I hope we all know that we are not alone.  And together, unified, is the only way to move forward.

But is being united truly enough?

Over the last ten years I moved forward.  I broke out of my shell, graduated from both high school and college, and then moved to Guatemala.  For me Guatemala has been and will be the most definitive time in my life.  As I lived outside of my home country, away from every comfort I’d grown up with, I realized how much I needed God in my life.  And I found out that God has something for me.

I believe God has something for the United States as well.  On September 12th, 2001 he began the healing.  While we were all in mourning, while we were all being led away from whatever was normal just 48 hours before, God was busy working.  Over the past ten years, while we came together as a nation, we have all been in a form of exile.  Being an American has been something different, our indestructible identity is gone.  We are still proud, as we should be, but the pain of being attacked still lingers, maybe in a way no one thought it would.  I believe the biggest change we have undergone as Americans is not knowing how to be who we are, Americans.

Do we love?  Do we realize we need each other?  Or do we stand apart?  Do we mourn alone-wrapped up in our own fear?  Do we stay in exile, confused about who we are and what God has for us?  Or do we come back to our foundations?  It is a new decade.  It is time for us to realize that God has a plan for us all.  As he said to the exiled Israelites through the profit Jeremiah, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Whenever seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart.”

Are we going to be a nation that finally turns its eyes to God?

We have fought to defend ourselves.  We have strengthened our defenses.  Can we lay our weapons down when it matters?  Can we love when love is what is needed most?  On September 11th we were all hurt badly.  It has been ten years and one day.  Let this be the first day we love first instead of hardening our hearts toward everything that might hurt us.  How long must we sing this song of hurt and pain?  Not another ten years.  Not another day.

We must wait on God and seek him out with our whole hearts the way King David did when he wrote Psalm 40 because he will bless us with something new.

I waited patently for the Lord;

He inclined and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;

He set my feet on a rock

and gave me a firm place to stand,

He put a new song in my mouth,

A hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear

and put their trust in the Lord.

Brendan regularly blogs at guatspot.worrdress.com

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9/11: In Memoriam

by Michael J. Klassen

I had woken up early to work on a writing project. At the time I was self-employed as a freelance writer. Walking to the kitchen for a bowl of cereal, I picked up the remote to help my daughter Allie find SpongeBob SquarePants on TV.

While scrolling from station to station, I spotted a burning building on one of the channels. I paused for minute to watch, but moved on because I determined the scene was much ado about nothing.

Was I ever wrong.

About an hour later, I checked the news sites on my computer and discovered that the burning building was the World Trade Center. But now a second one was engulfed in flames.

For the rest of the day, I couldn’t tear myself away from the television. When the first tower collapsed, I remember losing my breath. This can’t be happening, I kept telling myself. Despite my disdain for the arrogance New York City often effuses, I couldn’t help feeling overwhelming grief for the people effected by the terrorist attack.

At the same time, news broadcasts then reported that the Pentagon had come under attack as well as a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania?

What is this world coming to? I wondered.

Soon, every airport in America was closed, leaving the skies eerily silent.

Nothing has done more to undermine America’s sense of self-assuredness than the tragic events of September 11, 2001. We were insulated from the rest of the world. We assumed we were safe from outside attack. Catastrophes common in other countries didn’t happen here.

But they did.

In those dark days, the words of a verse in Scripture echoed inside me. “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

The answer to that question is, nothing.

The psalmist continues:

The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.

When the foundations are being destroyed, where is God? He’s still on the throne. He’s still the powerful God that he’s always been. He still sees what is happening. He sees the victim and feels their pain. He hates the violence. The psalmist says God hates those who love violence. That’s a hard pill to swallow in light of the many Scripture passages that extol the unremitting love of God.

This we know: God loves justice and he hates violence. At some point, all the past evils will be righted, atoned for. And fortunately he forgives, because if he didn’t, all of us would be grouped with the wicked.

Actually, the psalmist does offer us something we can do when the foundations are being destroyed: “In the Lord I take refuge” he writes at the beginning of the psalm. The Hebrew word for “refuge” appears 24 times in the Psalms. Hebrew scholars say that the word can also be translated “take cover”–like when bombs are showering down on you.

“In the Lord I take cover.” I like that.

When the foundations are being destroyed, we’re reminded how fragile life is. How petty everyday offenses really are. How trivial our pursuits can be.

When the foundations are being destroyed, we discover that we can take cover and find peace in the God who loves us and made us.

This weekend we remember the 2,819 people who died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and on United Airlines flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We also remember the families and friends of those people whose lives were affected as a result of the tragedy. May we live with the understanding that life is fragile and in God we can find refuge.

Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

 

 

 

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God Is Not Silent, Even On September 11

Editor’s note: In a desire to remember and honor those murdered on 9/11, I am departing from our format slightly today. I wrote this in the days following the 9/11 attack. It was first published in the Vail Daily. I have made only minor grammatical changes. Eugene

Daily the sound of children chattering, laughing, whooping and shouting wafts, soothing and constant like waves breaking on the beach, through my open windows. There is a grade school directly behind my house and each fall weekday, at about 8:45a.m., the delightful laughing and squealing and playing commences. Occasionally I’ll take breaks from my study to watch the children from the deck. Looking down into the playground these disembodied voices suddenly connect with children on swings, or playing soccer, or chase, or simply sitting against the wall talking. Their sporadic movements and spontaneous smiles dance in the fall air like sunlight on choppy water. Back in my study again, each wave of laughter reminds me life is as it should be and that I’m not alone.

Today however, all is not as it should be and it sounds as if I am very much alone. Today is Tuesday, September 11, 2001 and the waves of innocent noise from the playground have stopped rolling because several thousand miles away an unthinkable evil has struck our nation. Behind my house stunned silence reigns. On this day the children are being kept inside for very good reasons: fear, respect, confusion, safety. I too wallow in stunned silence unable to concentrate on my work.

I sit and wonder, is God silent too? Why does it seem God is so quiet when evil speaks? For the next couple of hours these questions pound me along with the horrific images from the television. God, why are you so silent?

Thankfully the phone rings and calls me away to help with emergency prayer services in one of the chapels I serve. The chapel fills with people of all denominations and faiths twice that day. We weep and pray together quietly. Slowly through our prayers and tears, I hear a profound sound.  God too is quietly weeping. I realize the silence of the children in the school behind my house was deeper than a silence of safety or fear. It was a silence of mourning. I am reminded of Jesus response to the death of his friend Lazarus: “Jesus wept.”

Why did I, do we, assume that God condones evil simply because God allows it to continue for a time? Does God’s silence really imply He is sitting in heaven nodding and muttering, “It’s about time those sinful humans suffered. It’s just what they deserve”? God forbid! Yes, we all have sinned. But God doesn’t silently and angrily throw airplanes into tall towers full of His children to punish them anymore than loving parents sneak up behind their children and beat their bottoms with no warning or explanation. No, God does not laugh at or ignore our pain. He mourns.

I know this because God was silent at another horrific time in history. The world went dark for three hours while Jesus hung on the cross (Luke 23:44-46). God mourned as He turned away from the sins of the world–including those of September 11–tainting the heart of Jesus Christ.

On September 11 God was not silent or inactive after all. If we look and listen, this becomes obvious. Since September 11 courage, kindness, love and mercy poured from the hearts of people in the United States and around the world. For example, some of the passengers on the Pennsylvania plane forced it to crash so as to save those in its intended target. And our little Interfaith Chapels raised $20,000 for disaster relief. A Girl Scout troop in Denver made red, white and blue ribbons and a local radio station gave them away for donations, raising several hundred thousand dollars. A friend of mine told me she broke down in tears in the parking lot of the post office. A stranger on crutches hobbled over and comforted her with a long hug.

For me the final piece of evidence that God was not silent came when I stopped in at the hospital to visit a woman from our congregation who had, on September 13, given birth to a son. I trembled at what I might say to her. How would she feel bringing a son into such a world? Would she be depressed? And how could I comfort her? She beamed as I walked in, the first true smile I had seen since Monday.

“Isn’t he beautiful?” she said pointing to her son.

“Yes. He is!” I beamed back.

Looking at that dark-haired miracle, I thought, Oh, how could I be so ignorant? Evil and hate can temporarily take life. But only God and love can create life. God is not silent! The quiet mourning of God is not a powerless shrug of the shoulders. He was not silent on September 11 nor was he silent when Christ died on the cross. In both cases God quietly takes death and turns it to eternal life.

“It is finished,” Jesus said from the cross. What is finished? The ability of evil to prevail. Win some major and devastating battles? Yes. But God’s love will prevail because only God can turn death and devastation to love and life. God is not silent. Jesus Christ shouted mercy, power, forgiveness and victory from the empty tomb. And he still shouts it today. No. God is not silent or inactive. If we listen, we can still hear Jesus whisper from the cross “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”  And if we allow it, He will speak and act through our love and kindness to one another.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Isaiah 19:1-21:17

Galatians 2:1-16

Psalm 59:1-17

Proverbs 23:13-14

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO. If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

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