lundi, septembre 11, 2006
Five years later
I got a lovely note from a friend today commending my pastoral care for his family on Sept 11, 2001. I had forgotten that his dad had suffered a stroke that day, and was fighting for his life. Sadly, his father died the next day. So, for Mac, the date the Twin Towers fell will always be intertwined in memory with a family tragedy. That solidarity in grief unites him with the thousands of Americans and foreigners who will be re-living the shock of that horrible morning. In one sense, that day seems like another lifetime-I was a parish priest reaching out to someone who was not only a member of our congregation, but a dear personal friend. Although I am still an ordained minister, I no longer am active in parish ministry. Though I did not know it at the time, my own personal crisis of faith was about to unfold, with times of pain, grief and self-doubt. Yet my conundrums pale when contrasted to the national crisis of faith which began to shake our country the day the planes went down in New York, outside D.C., and in a Pennsylvania field. We covered up our introspection with righteous and understandable anger. We hid our grief under car magnets: "I love America" and "Support our troops". We went from a war based on a real possibility of victory to one that seems to proceed without end. It seems, upon reflection, that perhaps we never really had the opportunity to grieve. So let us take that time today. Let us pray for the souls who now adorn the Kingdom of heaven, the young and the middle-aged and the old whom God has taken into His loving arms forever. Let us take the hands of the family members whose tears still fall, and comfort them with the knowledge that we, too, have not forgotten. And let us ask for God's mercy on our nation, so full of hope and ambition, and so prone to substitute political ideology for rational international diplomacy. Today, a day of mourning and remembrance is, as our President says, about patriotism-only not the kind that finds consummation in flipping on headlights or thinking that we've been victorious in keeping terorrists from our own shores when hundreds of Iraqi men, women and children still die in a war they did not choose. On this fifth anniversary of our American tagedy, perhaps we can find another definition of patriotism, one that is less angry and more tolerant of differences among men and women of good will. Maybe we can consider the idea that the country we love can always dream bigger, reach higher, do more for those who have less. As citizens of the United States, we are all bound today in the community of suffering, of remembrance, of justice and of shared humanity that makes this nation, at its best, a symbol of progress and hope for a world so often torn by just the kind of grief we are experiencing anew today.