Tomorrow is 9/11.
Do you remember where you were at when you got the news? You were likely involved in your normal everyday Tuesday schedule.
I know I was. But I never imagined how the rest of the day would go.
I had just woken up having worked a midnight shift the night before. It was about 8 am. I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree and had a final project due that day. So, I grabbed my cup of coffee, got my laptop out, and began writing. I had plenty of time to get the project finished. Class wasn’t till 6 pm that evening. So, I sort of grazed on the project while halfway paying attention to the morning news.
Nicky (my wife) and I hadn’t yet remodeled our living room. The paneling on the wall was still hanging there — ugly as can be. The carpet, well, I still remember wanting to get rid of it so bad. It was as ugly as the paneling. But we had just bought the house. The year before had us remodeling the kitchen. The next year would be the living room.
We still had our original green and gold couch that should have stayed in the 80s along with the coffee table from our apartment. The smell of our living room, feel of the carpet and fabric of the couch, and even the ugly paneling seem frozen, stuck in my mind. I was sitting on the end cushion — TV on, but volume mostly low. Remember, I was trying to graze the assignment while also grazing the news.
I couldn’t really make out what was being talked about. But I looked up and saw images of a plane crashing into a building. Honestly, I thought it was some sort of commercial for a TV show or new movie. I paid little attention to it at first and continued to sip my coffee while working on my final project.
It was a little while later that I looked up again and saw similar images and video of the towers with a lower third news caption at the bottom that looked ominously real. This wasn’t a TV show nor a movie.
This was really happening.
I closed my laptop, turned the TV up, and 30 seconds later I called my wife, Nicky. The first words out of my mouth were I love you. She was at work and I didn’t know if she was aware. She was. While I knew this was in New York, the thought occurred to me that this could have been anywhere. I wanted to make sure I said the most important thing first.
Everything slowed down for me that day. I think that’s what happened across our country to some extent. We all paused. We all reached for the phone to tell our loved ones we loved them. We were all held captive by what was unfolding in one of our biggest cities. It was tragic.
My heart still goes out in prayer for those who lost loved ones that day. I did not lose anyone. My family was hundreds of miles away. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t join in what they were going through. It doesn’t mean I didn’t stop my day and pray even though at that time I was shallow in faith. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel heartbroken over what was transpiring.
Classes were canceled that night. Nicky came home from work at noon and didn’t go back. She was given the rest of the day off. I remember we just sat, a recently young married couple, glued to the news in disbelief. How could this happen? Why did this happen? What’s next? Out of all the questions, confusion and chaos, something began to grow that day in our nation. I felt it begin to grow in me.
I felt united. I felt the verse that Paul penned to the Corinthian church.
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. (1 Corinthians 12:26 NLT)
Our nation suffered not only that day but for days to come. And in that suffering we were united. It was a common thread among all of us.
It brought out the best in America.
We came together as a nation. We rallied around our firefighters our police, our EMS. They were putting their lives in harms way for the life of another. Some of them died in their attempt to save another American life. We all watched as rubble was pulled away. We saw the numbers. And we united.
I think we need that now.
Today is much different. We’re more polarized now. If we disagree, we’re enemies. If you’re not for us, you’re against us. It’s the sort of attitude that was not present on 9/11. In fact, it was far from America that day.
On 9/11, we were united.
What would happen if we’d stop today and remember the brevity of life?
In a single morning, tragedy struck our great country and almost 3000 people died. That can happen again. This isn’t to scare anyone into anxiety. But it is a sobering reminder of just how short life can be. And a reminder of what is most important.
You’re reading this so you’ve already paused your day for a moment. So stop right now and take a moment to recall where you were on 9/11. Remember who went through your mind and heart. You likely called someone to tell them you loved them. You likely looked at your neighbor differently. What causes division today was not present then. You likely felt more unified. You lived differently.
I know I did.
9/11 was a tragedy. But I feel an even worse tragedy is on the horizon if we all don’t pause to remember what it means to be a United States American. A worse tragedy is to let tomorrow (9/11/2020) go by and not remember. A worse tragedy is not allowing the suffering of 9/11 to have little to no impact on our tomorrow — on how you and I treat each other. It would be grievous if we choose to not suffer together and also be glad together, even if we don’t agree.
So, let me ask again as I did in the title… What would happen if we’d remember and be united? I can’t answer for you. But I think I’d love more. In fact, the guiding question would be ‘What does love need me to do?’.
Imagine if we all approached a neighbor, a coworker, that person we don’t like or maybe even hate because they don’t think like us, with that mindset.
“What does love need me to do?”
What if we approach every circumstance with that lens? I think the word united is appropriate. I think that’s what we’d experience. And I believe it’s what we need.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of that day. Test me out on this and see what happens…. Pause to Love.
My guess is your day will be different. My guess is you’ll feel more loved. My guess is that you’ll experience being more…