I picked up the phone. My brother was calling from Munich, Germany where he lived and worked. There was no “hello” . . .
“Turn on your TV right now! A jet just crashed into the World Trade Center!”
I ran into the family room from the kitchen where I was homeschooling our kids and grabbed the remote. In an instant, I saw the first tower in flames, smoke belching, newscasters trying to think on their feet, just reporting the facts. No one really knew what was happening.
I screamed for my husband, working in his home office upstairs. He came quickly.
And then . . .
My family and I stood there in front of the television watching, in real time, as the second plane hit the second tower. I clasped my hand over my screaming mouth, then blurted . . .
“We’re being attacked! Oh my God! We’re being attacked!” I screeched horrified, feeling like I was watching a Hollywood movie. But this was real life shock and we were watching, feeling, in real time.
We stood unable to move—unable to stop watching. I tried to explain to our kids.
And then . . .
The towers came crashing down. Rubble dust darkened the sky raining with paper as people fled, running for their lives. Only later did I see video footage of the terrified, jumping out of the buildings, choosing to die by falling on concrete than by burning in flames, suffocating in smoke.
~ ~ ~
Years later, my husband and I walked solemnly to Ground Zero, to the edge of the hole. The hole in the ground made beautiful now with recirculating water, surrounded by black engraved with names—all the names of unsuspecting HUMAN BEINGS murdered that day—September 11, 2001—a day like any other. A day like no other.
“And her unborn child”—the words etched in cold stone chilled me through as I read the names of pregnant women on those flights.
I read them out loud, like their names must be spoken to be honored rightly.
Here I stood at the hole and wondered about the grief-hole shot through the hearts of surviving loved ones. As I stood with my husband in somber silence, I listened to the normal—to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan—the honking of life speeding along as usual.
Will some lives ever return to life as usual? After such trauma?
Will they ever forget?
I turned and saw the little tree, a survivor that defies belief. The tree of life . . .
The callery pear tree was severely damaged by the 9/11 attack, its roots snapped, its branches broken and burned. When discovered, she was removed from the site. She spent nine years being cared for, recovering, rehabilitating.
In 2010, she was returned to the site where she nearly died, right by the memorial of those who were murdered. She is a bit guarded now. Visitors can view her from a bit of a distance, needing to reach if they want to touch. As if she’s saying . . .
I’ve been wounded. I’m fragile. What can you do for me? Please don’t forget my past—what I’ve been through. But please look at me now as I am! Please remember! But please see how far I’ve come, with love! See that even evil cannot take all life. See that even evil that damages and snaps and burns and breaks and kills many—cannot conquer all! Look at me! Look at my wounds! Look at my growth! Look what love and time can accomplish! New shoots will come to you as they did me. And the new will be smooth and strong. The scars of the living will bear witness that LOVE—compassion and tender care—heals those brought near to death. So near. And LOVE holds all who have lost this life only to gain a better. Have hope!
And so I said a prayer by the callery pear . . .
Comfort, O LORD, the broken! Strengthen, O LORD, the wounded! Sustain, O LORD, the scarred! Rise up, O LORD, the voices speaking truth that LOVE CONQUERS ALL—never terror.
~ ~ ~
Today, grief and belief hold hands in my heart . . .
I grieve with the still hurting, the ones who suffered such loss on September 11, 2001.
I believe in a God who cares and prepares.
We will not grieve forever. Suffering will not be wasted. What evil intends for harm only fuels the flames of faith, hope and love.
Will we choose this day to stand against evil—to stand against terror—to stand FOR all things of God?
Heaven will help us, if we do.