I can’t believe it is 15 years ago when our lives changed in so many ways. I took so many things for granted. My safety on an airplane was one of those things. It was a day that left an imprint on so many, much like when President Kennedy was assassinated. Although I was a preschooler when President Kennedy was killed, I was a mother of two teenagers on 9/11. I felt so much older and wiser. But, I had so much to learn.
I had just gotten my sons off to school and I was sitting down at the table to have my own breakfast and my cherished cup of coffee before going to a meeting later in the morning. I turned on the Today Show and was stupefied to see one of the Twin Towers with smoke billowing out of its side. There was confusion as to what was going on and I watched in amazement as the news anchors were speculating and wondering themselves.
Then, it happened. There was a plane flying into the south tower. Right before my eyes, I saw the second plane hit. It was at that moment that I knew things were changing. Our world was going to be different in ways I couldn’t even imagine.
I have no idea how long I sat there just staring at the events as they unfolded in front of me on t.v. The Pentagon was hit. The south tower collapsed. A plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Then, the north tower collapsed. During all of this, I found myself doing the math in my head – how many thousands of people were in those towers, on the planes, in the Pentagon? The work day had begun. How many people were being killed? What about the buildings surrounding the towers? How many people were in them? How many people were dying before my very eyes?! It was surreal and I felt numb.
Mom called within minutes after the towers collapsed. My sister was in Boston on a routine business trip. Mom and Dad couldn’t remember if she was leaving on 9/11 or 9/12 to return to California where she lived. They were trying to call and they couldn’t get through – all of the circuits were busy. I went over to my parents’ house and we began watching all the events that followed while sitting on their four season porch. We continued to try Jodi on her phone. Praying that she was okay.
It was shortly before noon when we finally heard that Jodi’s flight was scheduled to leave the next day. She was okay but stuck in Boston because all air travel had been stopped. I felt a relief like I’ve never experienced before. She would have to drive back to California, but she was safe.
As the hours and days wore on, I couldn’t stop watching the news. I am not sure what I was looking for. However, I had to watch so I could find it. It was days later, when I realized what it was that I so desperately was trying to find. I was trying to find the light in all of this darkness. Then, I saw it.
One little photograph of all of the smoking, heaping rubble and there was the image of the cross. Workers who were cleaning up after the events of the previous days found this sheered metal image symbolizing everything I was looking for over the past few days. As a Christian I knew that Jesus was there and had been there all of the time. This picture reminded me that Jesus had already conquered death. He had already won over evil. As horrific as the days had been, Jesus was there.
He was with all of those who lost their lives that day. He was holding all those who were gravely injured as they waited to die. He lifted up all of the first responders and the brave men and women who fought the good fight in trying to rescue and save so many. Jesus brought comfort to those who were grieving with the chaplains, priests, ministers and lay leaders who ran to their aid. Jesus inspired the men and women in health care that spent hours and days fighting to save those that could be saved and comforted them when they could not. Jesus brought prayers from all corners of the world to show love and concern to all who were suffering. Jesus was there. He was everywhere.
When I saw this picture, it was as if my eyes were opened. I could see Jesus everywhere. I had been looking for the light. However, The Light was there all along. I couldn’t see Him because of my fear and pain. But, Jesus remained anyway. He stayed and lifted up all who needed sustenance. He was there all of the time!
I haven’t been able to read posts or stories about 9/11 on this 15th anniversary. I haven’t been able to watch the t.v. specials or documentaries. I know enough of what happened on that day and the following days. I can’t bring myself to read or watch because the pain in my heart is too great. The world, our world changed that day. It was never the same.
Instead, I have been rejoicing. I have chosen to praise God for His presence that day and every day. I am thanking Him for the gift of that photo that helped me see through the darkness. I am worshiping Him with gratitude for teaching me through such horrendous evil how to find Him in the midst of anything that this life brings my way. I an overwhelmed with adoration for the love He graciously gives to every man, woman and child.
Although 9/11 was a day that changed everything, not everything changed for the bad. I was changed for the good. I now can see things and the truth with much more clarity. I no longer struggle to find Jesus in every situation. The shock of 9/11 taught me to just look – because He is already there – everywhere – always.
In so many ways I can relate to Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” God took all that was wrong on 9/11/2001 and highlighted for me all that was right. His love shined through so many people that day, that the light was brighter than the evil. His love was everywhere. Even in a pile of rubble at the bottom of where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Thank you, Jesus!