Ten years ago and so much has changed! We all, unless we weren't born, remember where we on September 11, 2001 when we heard the horrific news about the plane crashes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and field in Shanksville, PA. At the time I worked at a non-profit organization in Southeast DC. From the front doors of the building the staff gathered to look across the Potomac River where we could see the flames and smoke rising from the Pentagon. We heard reports on the radio about a plane heading to the Capitol Building just blocks away. There were also reports that a plane was heading to the White House. Everyone struggled to comprehend what we were seeing and hearing. It was impossible to process the gravity of the attacks happening in NY, DC and PA.
When I was finally able to head home late in the afternoon it was as if Washington DC had become a ghost town. Streets were empty of cars and there were virtually no pedestrians. Everyone had fled by foot or by Metro or by car earlier in the day. When I crossed the threshold to my home I cried as I held my beloved and our dog in my arms. The pain, shock, grief and fear of the day was absorbed in our embrace, if only for a moment.
We emerged from the condo and walked to our nearby church. The silence was deafening. No air traffic, car traffic or people. We sat on a bench by the labyrinth and prayed. In the stillness we offered our questions, our fears, our grief and our pain to God.
In those first few hours there was silence. Not long after, however, National Guard troops and tanks arrived and were positioned on street corners in the city. Fighter jets routinely flew overhead. And the war began.
Stories of courageous people, parents, children, firefighters, police men and women, and loved ones began to be told. The country gathered to remember the heroes in NY, DC and PA. We tried to go on - to find a way to live each day in a new and different world.
We were suddenly vulnerable as individuals, as cities, as a country. Life would never be the same.
Since September 11, 2001, we have choices to make as individuals. Are we going to live our lives in fear or love? Are we going to seek to understand or seek to be understood? Are we going to love our neighbors as ourselves? Are we going to seek and serve the light and love of the Holy One in every person?
I pray we will choose to live our lives in love, seeking to understand, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. And I pray we, with God's help, will seek and serve the light and love of the Holy One in every person. Amen.