Listening to the band “Earthsuit” during my morning bicycling trip, the lyrics “Jesus riding on a white horse, hero calling from the sky, I see Jesus riding on a white horse, with spare room for you and I, to fly!” were interrupted as I wheeled into the garage, by the incessant ringing of the house telephone.
Yanking off my CD player headphones, I grabbed the telephone to hear my husband Lee shouting, “Turn on the TV, America’s being attacked!
Now, as a citizen of the vast and unassailable United States of America, I couldn’t bring myself to take that concept very seriously. I made no effort to rush indoors; instead I took my time removing my Keen hiking shoes, peeling off sweat drenched socks and refreshing my face in the sparkling waters of our backyard pool.
The telephone’s irritating encore drew me back inside the garage, Lee calling again to say he was genuinely concerned. Since he was unable to get to a television himself would I pleeeeeease let him know what was going on?
Stepping inside, I turned on the TV in time to view the surreal image of a plane floating gently, slightly angled, slicing violently through the exploding glass of the second tower.
My first thought was for the safety of our children; and that our children needed to be home with us to experience whatever was to come. It was important to us as parents that if we were facing a national crisis, we were the ones to present it to our children, to be with them to hear their emotions, to share our thoughts and views on the events, and to take our concerns together to the God who knew what was going on, since we obviously didn’t.
We had three children, one each in elementary, middle and high school at the time, so I raced from school to school, collecting each child, trying not to show on my face the anguish welling up inside.
Lee met us at home and we huddled around the TV to view the bizarre images, powerless to do anything but look on silently together. We knew the one thing we could do was to join together as a family to pray for God’s intervention and mercy for everyone impacted by those cataclysmic moments.
Later, after everyone drifted off to beds and sleep, I was flooded with tears. I’d already felt over my limit trying to raise three kids in a culture where god is what you wear and how much you possess; praying for wisdom to say and do the right things in front of them so I didn’t set the wrong examples with my own life.
How could I carry on with the image of those unsuspecting people dying so violently on a bright and beautiful September day and stave off the feeling that I was helpless to do anything that made any difference in a world like that?
How could I dare say to our children that God was in control, that he knew this thing was going to happen and he allowed it anyway, even had plans to use it for good?
The next day, a newspaper quoted an Afghan fellow saying the Afghan people would welcome America’s retaliatory bombs because they had no hope anyway. They had no homes, no money and their children were starving, so death would be a welcome relief from their dreadful daily existence.
My reasons for living seemed a little precarious at that moment too, and as I read that
article, a solidarity with that man and his people began to take hold. I’ve seen the world differently since then.
Over the next few days I realized the sun was still radiantly beaming in the softly clouded sky, although oddly void of air traffic. The evening platinum tinged moon was waxing (or was it waning), the birds still sang their glorious melodies, and the leaves were beginning to fall from the trees in anticipation of winter. God, it seemed, was still in complete control of his universe, everything obeying the programming their Creator put in place before the beginning of time.
No matter how evil men might decide to act, God’s mercy and love was there for
anyone who chose to call on him as those dreadful moments unfolded, just as it has been, and it will be, throughout history.
Stories of kindness, heroism and miracles spread; Americans came together as one nation, under God, indivisible by hate, for a while. Nothing in God’s realm had changed, only I had a new perspective: that God uses unique circumstances to reveal himself and call us to a relationship with him, whether we enjoy and approve the technique he employs or not.
And I had a new compassion for a people half way across the globe, who like us wanted to love their family and live in peace as best they could with their fellow humans. For years many nations endured the terror we were just now experiencing on American soil, many as believers who called on Christ for God’s direction and authority to carry them through and see beyond the moment to God’s purpose in the event.
The world grew smaller that peculiar 11th day in September.