Nineteen years ago, on this very day, our lives changed appreciably as planes flew into buildings and as a nation, and as a people, we were shocked and horrified by the death and destruction before us. Most adults today remember just where they were when they heard the news of the 9/11 attacks. For those who are 25 years or younger that day, and its memories are as distant as the memories of the Pearl Harbor raid are to an earlier generation. Today’s young people will, no doubt, live their lives remembering the COVID pandemic of 2020 as a significant traumatic event.
Today, as we think back upon the events of that September morning with its bright hope and promise and its dreadful reality, what will we recall? Perhaps we will recall where we were or how we learned of the events. We may bring to mind persons we knew who were involved as victims or family to victims. Most of all we will remember what it felt like – the disbelief and shock, the unrelenting news coverage, the fear of what would happen next and our concern for friends and family. Perhaps we will hold in our memories a specific thought for the police, fire, EMTs and ordinary citizens who responded with courage and service to those in need. Perhaps we will recall too in the days following the attack that we became a more unified people, a more considerate tribe seeking to help one another in an uncertain time. We will remember with grateful hearts the hope and confidence we drew from the selfless example so many first responders and even ordinary neighbors.
As we face our own challenges of 2020 – and there are plenty – let us take heart from those who gave us strength nineteen years ago. Amid pandemic and wild fires, national discord and international turmoil may we find strength in the Psalmist’s contention that God is a very present help in trouble. Not a far distant God but a present, nearby God – just a prayer away. If we can remind ourselves of that presence we shall not be afraid of today or of tomorrow’s future. In such a confident hope we too can find the capacity to serve others, seek to support those who need help and to hold fast to a positive view of the future. May it be so in these days.
Every generation has its own traumatic events that, for the moment stop the world. And every generation has among it those whose faith and trust lead them forward into service and support. Generations are not judged by the traumas that befall them but by their response to those traumas. Let us, in this moment place our trust in God and fearlessly live into the future.
Yours for the journey,