by Lisa DeRosa
Tomorrow, September 11, 2020, marks the 19th year since the tragic day that we remember and grieve in the United States. I remember entering my 4th grade classroom that morning to find the TV on, which was not normal. The news showed images that my young, sheltered mind was not able to take in. We weren’t able to play outside because we were on lockdown until the end of the day. A classmate’s dad was scheduled to meet in one of the World Trade Center towers that morning, but he missed his flight from the west coast. Our family faced several days without Dad after his Navy base was locked down in San Diego. That next year, he served in the Gulf with limited communication with us back home for nine months. This is what I remember about that day.
My husband and I traveled to New York as part of our honeymoon trip a few years ago. I was not emotionally capable of entering the memorial museum with my husband, but spent reflective time at Ground Zero and the Firefighter’s Memorial. It was eery. Life around it was rebuilt and moving at its normal speed. I could not imagine the amount of work that went into clearing and restructuring the streets, buildings, and city.
Recently, a stranger struck up a conversation with me while I was in a high rise building in Bellevue, WA. After just a few minutes, she opened up about her life since September 11, 2001 when she said goodbye to her fiancé on the phone as he died in one of the towers. I asked her how she has coped over the years, to which she responded that she has tried everything. Drugs, yoga, counseling, alcohol, meditation, marriage and divorce, a successful career, and finally as a last resort, she started going to a church and wondering about God. Her raw emotion that she was willing to share with a total stranger was both surprising to me and refreshing. Real.
All of this remembering reminds me that I cannot control people, places, or things. I cannot control events that occur around me. But, I can take one day at a time. I can be present to those whom God has gifted me with in my life. I can check in on loved ones and friends so they know how I care about them. And I can trust that God is my hope, my strength, my safe place and my peace. God sits with me in the pain and the remembering if I am willing to go there. The gentleness and love of God is there in the midst of my sorrow, tears, and grief.
I appreciate so much this prayer that Christine has adapted over the years as she has “meditated on the horrors of war and terrorism, the plight of refugees and the atrocities and useless killing and maiming that resulted”.
God, so much violence, so much pain, so much heartache.
May our remembrances of this day instill within us a horror of war,
And help us stand against the atrocities caused by terrorism.
As we grieve with those who still mourn,
And share memories with those who cannot forget,
May we be stirred by your love and compassion for all.
As we remember those who bravely responded,
And gave their lives to save others,
May we draw strength from their selfless sacrifice.
As we stand with strangers who became neighbours that day,
Sharing and caring for people they did not know,
We give thanks for their generosity and hospitality.
May it remind us of the call to be good Samaritans,
Reaching out across race and culture to other victims of violence.
So many in our world have lost loved ones to terrorism and war,
So many have been displaced from homes and country,
May their plight fill us with a longing for peace.
Let us seek for understanding and reconciling,
And not turn from your kingdom ways.
Above all God may we remember your faithfulness,
And learn to trust in your unfailing love.
Below are resources to help facilitate your remembrance of September 11, 2001.
- September 11th Resource List
- Litany for 9/11 by Fran Pratt
- In search of peace: Remembering 9/11 by Jeannie Kendall
- 9/11 – Ten Years Later
- Remembering 9/11, and Praying for Peace
- Remembering 9/11 – May It Call Us to Peace and Not to War
- Memorial 9/11 Prayer and Pope Francis Call to Peace
- Remembering September 11, 2001 by Michael Moore