I've shared this before, I'm sharing it now, and I'll surely share it again in the future, in honor of this very sad day of remembrance. I wrote it on September 11, 2001. It still reflects my feelings and impressions, even 11 years later.
Last night on French television, I saw a 9/11 documentary with all the usual film footage. It focused a lot on the reactions of people in the streets, the faces of people all over the city and in the surrounding areas. There was no commentary, the filmmakers let the footage speak for itself. Powerful stuff. I'm one of the lucky ones who can say that I didn't lose a friend or family member in the attacks, but nonetheless, each time I see certain images, my heart drops to my stomach and for a moment my eyes well up with tears. The skyline over NYC is changing now, and I'm glad to see the new buildings rising from the dust each time I go back to my family in NJ... but it will never, ever be the same. The lack of the original Towers is, to me, the most powerful "memorial" of all.
To all those who have an even more personal and painful connection to the events of that day, I say simply: I remember.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Author's Note: At precisely 10:32am on the
morning of September 11th, 2001, I turned on my television expecting to see the
usual daily "stuff", and watched in horror and disbelief at the events which
were unfolding before me, just miles from my home in northern New Jersey. On
the TV screen, I saw an image of a huge cloud of dust enveloping some city I
couldn't identify, and the caption said "Twin
Towers collapsed". At first I thought it was a movie, until I realized
every TV station was showing the same thing, and then I thought, "They must be
talking about some OTHER Twin Towers because they can't mean New York!" This is
how I learned of the terrorism that hit our country, head-on -- just ONE MINUTE
after the second tower fell.
Like all of you who saw it on TV or in person, I was stunned by what I was seeing, as more and more news footage came in throughout the day. I watched, glued to my seat for hours, as I learned of the attack on the Pentagon, the grounding of all air traffic over U.S. airspace, and the crash of Flight 93 over a field in Pennsylvania. I could not comprehend what could possibly be going through the minds of the people who planned and executed these attacks on thousands of innocent people.
Later that long and terrible day, I decided to write about what I felt, as I often do when I am in emotional distress and trying to make sense of that which is senseless. The following essay is what I created in an attempt to ease my own pain, describe my strong emotions, and to offer some relief to my clients and e-zine readers. This was originally published on September 11th, 2001 via my e-zine, Living Boldly®. I am reprinting it here, along with a photo I took in 1990, in rememberance of the thousands of people who were lost that day, and their loved ones who are still struggling to come to terms with their losses. May we never forget them.
Healing the Global Heart
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, late evening in suburban New Jersey
Today, I, like all of you and others around the world, I am shocked and saddened by what has happened in our world today. I live in northern New Jersey, about 40 miles outside of New York City. Living so close to NY, everyone I know seems to either work in the city or know someone who does. At the present time, I am grateful beyond words that of all the friends and colleagues I've talked with today (and there have been many), all the news has been good and most people seem to be accounted for.
Nevertheless, this has changed me forever, as I'm sure it has changed you. No matter where you are in the world, whether or not you are American, an act of such colossal hatred and calculated violence touches each one of us. It makes us wonder if anything at all makes sense, makes us question our faith, makes us question what we know to be true.
So tonight, as I sit at my computer with the news playing in the background, I'd like to take a moment to share what I know to be true, even in the face of this unimaginable death, pain, destruction and sadness. This is my way of coming to terms with what seems impossible to comprehend, so I hope you take this in the spirit in which it is given -- the spirit of love and healing. I hope that each of you is able to find his or her own truth in these events.
I know this to be true:
... that everything DOES happen for a reason, and there ARE no accidents - even when what's happening doesn't make sense to our human minds, which always want to seek the "rational" answer. I might not understand this, now or ever, but I can accept that there IS a good reason and that God has things under control.
... that there is some good in every human being - even when one approaches you in violence as an enemy.
... that for any person to commit such acts against his fellow human beings, he must be in tremendous pain, for only a person in the worst pain imaginable could believe that acts of violence and hatred can lead to anything good and pure. And I know that these people are doing the best they can with what they know, just as we all are, even though their "best" is what we see before us today on the news.
... that I can still have faith even when my faith is put to such a test. I can put my faith in the Universe, and trust that everything that is happening is by design and is empirically perfect - even when it feels anything BUT perfect.
... that the only way another person can truly hurt me is if I lose my faith, lose my hope, lose my sense of humor, lose my ability to forgive, lose my ability to love all mankind. If I can keep these in the face of tragedy, I win.
... that I can have forgiveness in my heart for the people who would commit such acts of violence and seek to kill people they have never met, even while I could never condone or excuse their choice to commit these acts and even while I believe that justice should be served. In being open to forgive them, I begin to heal my own pain. In praying for my enemies, I am choosing the path of love. In the face of love, fear cannot stand. So I choose love.
What I know to be true is -- if these events had not occurred, I might not have had the opportunity to look at these truths, to take them out for a "test drive" and to learn that they are the foundation of Who I Am. I now have evidence that I can stand firmly on this foundation of Who I Am and that these truths can sustain me.
And so I am, in the end, grateful for this lesson, even while I grieve with the world for the terrible loss of life; even while I deal with my own anger over the pain and suffering of the injured and the families of the victims; even while I cry for children who have lost their parents or parents who have lost their children, for anyone who has lost someone they cared about today.
We live in a relative Universe, which by definition means that we come to understand what a thing is by being able to compare it to its opposite. We cannot know what Light is if we do not know what Dark looks like. We cannot know what Sound is if we do not understand Silence. We cannot truly know Love if we do not, at least once, have the experience of what Hate looks like and feels like. Today, there is Darkness - but there will soon be Light once again, and we can be grateful. Today, there is Silence as we grieve and as we wait quietly for news - but soon enough we will again know the pleasure of the Sound of laughter, of children, of birds, of the wind in the trees, and this will bring us Peace. Today, we have seen what Hate can do, and the world feels out of control. Now, let us strive in our lives to be an expression of what LOVE looks like, and know that change starts with each one of us.
Join me in a prayer tonight and in the days to come as we work to heal what has happened...
Pray that the hearts of those who would commit acts of violence will be opened to love, for only love can heal a heart hardened by hate.
Pray that the hearts of those who wait in fear for news of their loved ones will be granted peace through the love we send them tonight and in the days to come, for only love can truly bring peace in the face of fear.
Pray that the hearts of those who have suffered such tremendous loss can be healed and comforted by love, for only love can heal a wound of such depth.
Pray that the hearts of our leaders in government, both here in the U.S. and around the world, will be guided by love, for only love can provide the wisdom these men and women need to help our nation and our world heal itself.
Pray that the hearts of our citizens in the U.S. will be softened by love, not hardened by anger and the need for revenge, for only love can help us honor the memories of those we have lost and to seek justice in a way that will empower us, not cause further pain and destruction.
On a day like this, it seems all those things we think are such problems, such a big deal most of the time, shrink into nothing. We are reminded, all too vividly, of what really matters. Tell someone you love them. Hug your children. Play with your pets. Smile at a stranger on the street. Express your gratitude for the abundance in your life.
May our hearts be opened. May our pain be healed. May our shock and anguish be softened in time. May we remember to walk in love and peace, and to pass it on. And in so doing, may we honor the victims. May their passing not be in vain. May it be a wake-up call which all the world hears and heeds.
Peace be with you and your loved ones. Let the healing begin.
Copyright © 2001 Lisa Taylor Huff. May be forwarded or reprinted in its entirety, without alterations, including this copyright statement, with written permission from the author.