The white dust could be seen for miles, and some of it still remains in the crevices of the buildings and the streets of the city so nice they named it twice.
The earth’s crust was permanently altered that day, and the soil tells stories of massive loss of life. And, if even for a short time, September 11, 2001 sent an entire nation to it’s knees.
I have had a life long love affair with the Big Apple. My introduction to the city was dramatic for a Florida girl from a small metropolitan area. The sights and sounds of the city invaded my senses as our car FINALLY exited the Lincoln Tunnel. Signs of life were everywhere, in fact, I had never SEEN SO MUCH LIFE! In the years following, I visited NYC many times and maintained that the only thing missing from that city was my favorite football team and year round sunshine-both of those things were deal breakers for a move, but I vowed to visit often and so I did. If a city can be your friend, NYC is mine.
Then somebody delivered a body blow to my friend. And suddenly the signs of life seemed to be gone, the embers of which were represented on a huge pile of steel, ruble and people. Citizens from around the world became familiar with what would be named “Ground Zero”. We watched endless news coverage that was often not produced well because the news outlets just wanted to get information to those who desired answers and hope. The leader of the free world stood on that pile of devastation and promised to hear the cries of his citizens. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months that has now turned into almost two decades.
My resilient friend began to heal, and I got to visit her many times while she attempted to become the NYC of old, but try as she might, that never happened. Now, the pile is gone and the sky not as empty as freedom is represented by a new building by that name. There are memorial pools, museums, and over abundance of security. And yes, there are signs of life again. It’s not the same, it never will be, but people are doing what humans tend to do, breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. At some point, we crossed back over to the land of the living, and signs of life began to spring up like a stubborn weed growing out of a rock.
On a day like today (the 18th anniversary) it is human nature to reflect on that day, and the devastation left in it’s wake. And while we have not suffered a single event that claimed the number of lives of that September day, we have all, both collectively and individually, had plenty more from which to heal.
Most of us, if we are honest, will admit that life is hard and pain is real and sometimes we feel like we are drowning. For some of us, it is easy to resign ourselves to an existence void of signs of life. It is easy to lose our child like hope that every day is a new day with new opportunities and mercies that are JUST enough for that day and not meant for tomorrow. Pain has robbed us of optimism, Hope and the desire to even try to see the goodness of God in the land of the living. We doubt the goodness of God and are tempted to ask that question:
“How could a loving God…..”
The truth is that the Redeemer of the whole world is standing atop the piles of rubble that is shattered dreams, unanswered questions and bitter disappointments. He is telling us that He is the God Who hears us. He stood on a cross and did not need a megaphone to convey His message. He not only wants us looking for signs of life, He wants us to BE the life to a dark world who continues to ask that age old question about His love and His intentions for us. Do we believe that we WILL see the goodness of God in the land of the living or will we go stand on our piles of past rubble with our backs to God and an outstretched hand pushing away hope?
Life deals us body blows and we will heal, the degree to which is dependent on how much surgery we will let Him perform on our pain. Very similar to that September day, the tragedies and pain of life leaves dust that sometimes stays to remind us of His faithfulness. Pain leaves scars making the landscape of our lives look forever different. Pain will drive us to our knees.
As I thought about writing this and some surgery going on in the OR on my pain, I remembered this verse that is such a special promise and is a testament to getting through that day, every painful day after it and every one that is one it’s way:
“I would have lost heart if I had not believed in the goodness of God in the land of the living” Psalm 27:13
The question now, as it was on September 12th, is “how then shall we live?”