…where were you?

…where were you?

It is an anniversary–10 years ago today, September 11, our sense of peace and security was shaken to its core. There are few in this country and world that do not remember where they were on that Tuesday morning. Almost anyone asked, could tell a story of how the horrors and uncertainties of that day affected them personally.

I can picture exactly where I was as news began to report the attacks in New York and the Pentagon. Working as a chaplain in a large teaching hospital, I remained on high alert, prepared to respond to unspeakable traumas every day. The morning routine had been normal — it was time for a cup of coffee, after making first rounds in my assigned units. Sitting with another staff chaplain, we begin to notice small clusters of people gathering to talk about airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center in Manhattan. Nowhere in my wildest imagination would I have considered what was to come.

…where were you?

So many people can tell a story of how his or her lives were changed that day. The natural response was to contact love ones – to hear their voices or see their faces. On that morning we, myself, my brother and sister, anticipated the return of our parents from a two-week holiday in Paris, France. Their flight was to land in Newark, New Jersey sometime mid morning. In the blink of an eye their return became of grave concern. No one knew where these lethal planes had originated and waiting for that news would seem a lifetime. I immediately wanted to contact my brother and sister. What could we do? How could we find our parents in the midst of such chaos? Mom and Dad had been with my aunt, dad’s sister, and her husband who were still in Paris. I called my uncle’s office, spoke to his secretary and gave her information on how to contact me when/if she received news from my uncle. I then called my brother, who lived near Washington DC, a chaplain at a private preparatory school. My sister-in-law answered their phone from the floor of her basement with small children near. The next exit from their house was the Pentagon. They had felt the ground shake as the plane crashed into the Pentagon’s walls. The noise of rescue vehicles and helicopters filled their yard and home. Okay–now there was a concern for parents flying into the New York area and for my brother’s family so very close to another attack. A call to my sister brought comfort; she and her family were safe, alert and aware.

It was not long before we all knew that the planes used for these horrific acts were domestic. They had left American cities on course to wreak havoc on other American cities. Such acts were un-thinkable. Who could do these things? As the day unfolded news began to report that these actions were planned in middle-eastern countries far away – by people known as terrorists (a term that would become all too familiar in the days and years to follow). Even hearing these details, the question remained — where were the international flights – my mother and father? It was late morning before my pager alerted me to a call from my uncle’s office. News of my parent’s location! There would be no landing on America soil, that day or many days to follow. They were on route to a large landing strip, an Air Force military base in Gander Newfoundland, where they would land and remain for over 3 days, while waiting for clearance. Since that time a book has been written about this small town’s big heart as they hosted and cared for these foreign flights.

 THE DAY THE WORLD CAME TO TOWN – 9/11 in Gander

…where were you?

At a table in front of a hospital television, I remember returning calls to my brother and sister. There would still be much to do to build the bridge needed for us to be in contact with our parents. For now we could give thanks for their safety.

That afternoon, just like the day began, I sat with the same chaplain sharing coffee and reflecting on all we had heard and experienced since that morning. Feeling somewhat helpless, we tried to think of who might need our prayers and support. We soon found ourselves in the office of a professor at the school of medicine. He was Muslim. Nowhere in our wildest imaginations did we see this moment in time. Though we were quiet, we shared prayers of gratitude and peace.

…where were you?

to choose kindness..

as the sun sets on this Sabbath, I am acutely aware of the battle for power occurring among the ‘leaders’ of this country. I try to steer far from writing about politics (in obvious ways) — yet tonight as many people go to bed fearful of what tomorrow might bring, I touch the tip of this topic in hopes to introduce a different way to look at this time in history. some of us remember the movement called “random acts of kindness’. books were written, cards were designed and calendars created to help remind us of the importance of kindness. I was always curious as to why we needed such prodding to treat others, stranger and friend, with a caring heart.

this way of “acting” is no longer a given in relationships nor held in esteem by many in public service. and so as we move toward a critical moment in this nation’s history, I find the words – choose kindness – as each day’s mantra. while we are surrounded by news that’s purpose is to create anxiety and fear, let us test the practice of sharing kindness and good news. Below is an article concerning the influence of ‘good news’. For many of us sharing ‘good news’ is part of our life as followers of Jesus – at this time be encouraged to do this as suggested by St. Francis; “Preach the gospel (good news), if necessary use words”

How good news can inspire good deeds

Remembering to say ‘thank you’…

Most of us learned the importance of these two words when we were very young. Somewhere in our years toward adulthood, we often turn our ‘thank you’ into anxious worry. This draws us inward and can certainly affect our well-being – both physically and mentally.

This article may be of interest for those considering the value of ‘thank you’…

Praying ‘thank you’ author, Donald Schell – Episcopal Cafe

Eve of Ash Wednesday…

On the eve of Ash Wednesday, I often find myself in grateful reflection.. Another year has passed (ever notice how our church calendar gives us ample opportunity to re-member ourselves — mini New Years abound). This past year I have experienced God’s healing grace, reminded of the intricate pattern healing and wholeness weave. I have “walked” with others through death’s valley and celebrated the warm rays of resurrection. It has been a familiar year — God’s culture has touched me and my community.

On this eve of Ash Wednesday, I prepare for tomorrow’s task. With ashy finger tips, I will look into the faces of strangers and friends, children and adults, stroke the sign of the cross on their foreheads and remind each of where they came and will return. Each time the words are spoken I am moved by the reality of our fragile nature and feel God’s hand, palm open, gently cradle all of her beloved.

Once again we are free to be forgiven. And a new year begins…