Been struggling to write a post lately. The trouble is I’m watching too much TV. I’m watching too much politics. And, I have opinions about it all. Opinions which, no doubt, might differ from some. I’m aware that, at times, I can be annoyingly verbal about my thoughts but, I usually try to stay away from so called political opinions in my posts. I, like many, are weary, so weary, of the political rants on social media. And, I’m tired of the media bias on TV…whether it be this way, or that. Notice I said this way or that, instead of right or left, conservative or liberal. There is so much working to divide us these days. At the heart of it I wonder if we are just plain scared. And, I wonder if we really even fully know the root of our fear.
Yesterday I watched hours of 9/11 tribute shows. Extensive footage of people facing the horror of that morning, and for many a pain that lasts to this day. Watching it made me think of a childhood friend of Tom’s who lost his dad that day. He was a retired fireman who was working as a fire safety director at the World Trade Center. That morning he worked with others to safely evacuate children from the day care center in one of the nearby buildings. He called his wife to tell her he was safe. Said good-by and ran into one of the towers to help.
They never found his body, maybe his badge. Tom went to his memorial service a month or so later. It was one of hundreds attended by city officials. One of hundreds where bagpipes were heard to play the pain and love that was felt by all. One of many, none of them easier than another I’m sure. It was a life changer for Tom. I’ve never seen him so moved by anything before. I saw heart break and awe both in his eyes.
Yesterday as I re-watched the people running in the streets for their lives as the wall of debris and smoke chased after them I was reminded of the day, many years ago, I rode the train from Long Island to the city, to the World Trade Center, with our friend’s dad, Phil, the man who was killed trying to save others. I was meeting friends and he offered to escort me, the Texas girl going to the city.
He was an Irish Catholic Yankee, and I say that with great affection and respect. See, I married one of those and that’s why I know it is not a bad thing to call someone. Tom actually beams a little when I call him that. He’s proud of his heritage. I’m not insulting Southern Protestants…I actually am one. I’m just affirming some loved ones here. All of the Irish Catholic Yankees I have ever known have been hard workers, a bit skeptical, good hearted, sincere and faithful people, who love a good party when they see one. People who would do anything to help.
Which is exactly what our friend’s dad, Phil, did that day. He made sure I got on the right train, and the right subway, and made it safely to the World Trade Center. He was so protective he wouldn’t even let me hold my own ticket! And, I remember he was so very proud to show me the towers. He was proud to be a part of helping people stay safe there.
There was something in the footage I saw yesterday that both warmed my heart even as it broke it. It was the number of people on the morning of 9/11 and after who, maybe for the first time, or maybe it was the way they had always lived their lives, put their own safety aside in order to help others reach safety. There was a connectedness that took over, an understanding that all lives mattered and even a stranger was worth the danger.
There was an enormous blow of violence dealt to our country that morning in New York, one resulting in death and destruction, and in wounds we carry to this day. And, there were those who would not let death win, even if it meant assuring their own. Whether they were conscious of it or not, their sacrifice paved the way to the reality of a literal rising from the ashes. The reality of new life that comes from standing up to fear and death.
Jesus did and said dangerous things in his passion for humanity. Things that eventually got him killed. And, he did it knowing full well the cost. He did it in the spirit and power of Love. He did it so all might live. Beyond fear and beyond death. Right here. Right now.
The way I see it, the Gospel of Love was hard at work the morning of 9/11. Giving. Sacrificing. Comforting. Dying. Rising. Saving. Prevailing.
In this season of divisiveness and fear I need to know there is still a courageous Love uniting us at all cost.
Something to chew on…