Today I’ve been deep in thought…pondering whether I should/could blog about this 11th anniversary of the attacks on America. I don’t like to call that day an “anniversary”. Anniversaries should be happy occasions: wedding anniversaries, successful business anniversaries, cancer-surviving anniversaries, and the like. But what should we call it? How do we appropriately refer to the day which horrifically changed America and the world as we know it? Forever.
I watched several documentaries last night from differing viewpoints of the 9/11 attacks. One was about men and women who survived, sharing their memories, re-telling the events that led to their safe exit – or their rescue – from the Towers as others died around them. One program re-enacted the timeline, moment by tragic moment, as around the world we learned that Hatred was at the helm of four fuel-heavy jetliners. The last program and the most difficult to watch, profiled surviving family members of those whose lives were ripped away from them in a breath: one moment drinking coffee, checking email, and prioritizing the day’s activity; the next making frantic phone calls and sending hurried text messages to share one last “I love you”, certain they were never going home. Children whose parent(s) would never watch another baseball game or school play; sons who would never again come home to mom’s chocolate chip cookies; daughters left with only memories of their daddy’s tender hugs.
What struck me was that in the midst of all their pain, sadness, confusion, and grief were smiles of remembrance. These family members and friends truly enjoy sharing with the world their loved one, what they meant to their family and community, how they acted bravely – even heroically – in the face of incredible danger. And without fail, every single person shared their overwhelming gratitude for the outpouring of love and care from those around them and from America as a whole. These precious orphans, grieving parents, widows, and widowers collectively thanked America for sharing their burden, for bearing the weight with them, for never forgetting.
It is what we do, we Americans. In the face of unspeakable tragedy or natural disaster, we rally. We come together. We unite. We act as one for the betterment of the other. It is why we are America. Whatever your religious or political affiliation, compassion is one of the hallmarks of our nation.
It reminds me today that there is no burden too heavy for us to carry together. We are made for relationship: for sharing happiness and grief, play and work, contentment and despair. We have each other because each needs the other.
It also reminds me, in the bigger picture that we are made for relationship with God: not for what He can do for us or we should do for Him, but for honest, authentic relationship; knowing Him and being known by Him. For all our happiness, play, and contentment He longs to rejoice with us. And for all our grief, work, and despair, He will be our comfort, our strength, our peace.