Acting as sponsors for a school trip to New York City, one of our planned stops to see was Ground Zero. This edge sits within the building footprint as well and signifies a gap, a hole, a loss or a void left in so many of us with connections to that day.
Does it explain, “Why?” Of course not. But it does remind us to remember what this attack meant to us that day years ago and how we live differently today, fifteen years later.
Students at my middle school were born after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This is history to them. None of them have that moment of, “I remember where I was when I heard about it!” None of them stopped their lives for a moment, an hour or a day or weeks to reflect, ponder and contemplate the implications of us under such an attack searching for meaning, a reason why or just facing the reality of such drastic events playing out on our own soil.
Fast forward fourteen years, and we arrive at the day I lost my Sister-In-Law, Jayne’s sister, Mary. Cancer, pain and a battle against an unseen enemy where the best treatments were nearly as bad as the disease itself, we struggled with Mary, but not as Mary. She finally relinquished her spirit on the morning of September 11th, 2015, resting peacefully in her own home, after making amends, saying farewell and admonishing reconciliation with everyone around her. Sisters, brother, immediate family and close friends all had come to say goodbye, yet none of that made her departure any easier, better or convenient for us. Yet we all asked WHY?
Why would God take her? Of course it was rhetorical because the answer would elude logic. However, the question reminds us of our own selfish nature! (Mine too!) Why would He take her from us? It seemed like maybe he wanted her now! He thought it was time. I can’t speak to our value of her, whether we held her in proper regard, gave her the honor she deserved or held her in the right esteem, but it may not have been enough! Maybe He wanted her home for her benefit? Having this life event occur on 9/11/15 reminds us of the emotional connections already in place surrounding that day. It reminds us that each of us suffer loss.
Then, this morning after the first service, Jayne and I were up in the front wondering if anyone would come join us to share a story of pain, concern or need for prayer. We did not wait long! A parishioner came up and joined us, asking for prayer and looking for a sounding board. She shared a tragic story of an overdose. Behind the story were threads of success, recovery, healing, love, family, forgiveness and reconciliation. Yet, it was still a tragedy. A life was ended, due to all the reasons in the world with no reason in the world to justify it and nobody to explain “Why?” We sought to identify blame, purpose, or any way to explain why this might have happened, yet none was obvious.
Mirror mirror on the wall…
But a theme began to develop. This theme held hope for the victim. Hope for her future. What if this world was not worth her? What if she truly was wanted by Him? What if our own selfish desire to have her here was holding her back? What if our examination of everything was not really based on ourselves but actually what may have been best for the former addict? Maybe asking these questions, however difficult to pose, face and answer, especially if the answers are not about us, are meant to help us look at ourselves as ones to serve, and not to be served?
Blessed or Blesser?
For instance, we may be able to see how God, because of our treatment of her here, would want to bring her home to Himself. Maybe we were not really worthy to have her alongside us? Maybe we truly weren’t worthy? And maybe her departure helped us shift our focus away from the mirror and onto those that struggle, those less fortunate, those with less than we have or those without our faith? Maybe it is about what we believe, tenets we follow and our adherence to morals, justice and a Higher Power that sustains us in our very weaknesses.
Step One: Admit we are powerless to _________, ( fill in the blank with your struggle) and admit our lives have become unmanageable!
Why would God allow something like 9/11/01 to happen? Why did we lose Mary, this day last year? Why did she overdose? Why does bad happen? Would we have contemplated this, drawn nearer to God or tightened our bonds with each other without it??? I don’t know yet, but I do feel like sometimes, I am not worthy to have such noble, charming, pleasant and beautiful people around me. Maybe, I’m not worthy!
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