1 Corinthians 1:10 – I urge you, my brothers and sisters, for the sake of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree to live in unity with one another and put to rest any division that attempts to tear you apart. Be restored as one united body living in perfect harmony. Form a consistent choreography among yourselves, having a common perspective with shared values.
Gratitude Day 669
Anyone over the age of 25 remembers what happened 20 years ago today.
We remember where we were when the news broke that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York City. And when another plane hit the second tower, we stopped trying to have words that could ever begin to make sense of what was happening right before our eyes. When a third plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, it didn’t make sense until it came out that people on the this plane took action to avoid more people being killed in another crashed building.
We watched TV and witnessed the awful pictures . We heard the heart-wrenching stories. We closed our eyes and shook our heads and wondered how this could have happened in the United States of America.
It was a terrible and awful day.
But then, 9.12.21 happened. It was like our entire country shifted just a bit. We called our loved ones and made sure they were safe. We slowed down and hugged each other more. We listened, really listened, to each other and showed compassion towards those who lost loved ones, even if we did not know them.
For those who could not travel and were stuck in a location other than home, we took pity on them. We provided them places to stay and food to eat and places to shower. We stopped by our neighbors and checked in on people who we often feel we do not have time to see. We scoured the internet and read stories that turned our hearts upside down a million different ways. We filled churches and synagogues and stadiums and prayed and pleaded with God to grant us a sense of peace. We extended free grace to strangers and even people we don’t really like because, well, just because.
As awful of a day 9.11.21 was, 9.12.21 redeemed it. We were patient and kind with each other. We waited for the other person to go first at a four-way stop and did not mind when it took an extra 10 seconds. We made sure first responders and fire fighters and EMTs and health care providers knew we appreciated the risks they made. So, we sent them boxes of pizza and jugs of water. We pulled together in this most awful of crisis and committed to remember the lessons that stared us in the face on 9.11.21.
But then, life happened. Time passed. As we looked at 9.11.21 in the rearview mirror, those lessons we committed to keep close to our hearts and minds started to slip away. The tight-knit feeling we felt with so many other Americans became severed when we suddenly did not agree on something else. And while we remember 9.11 and what happened that day, the promises we made to ourselves and each other on 9.12 began to disappear.
It is important that we remember 9.11 and the people who sacrificed their lives that day. Those families who lost a loved one continue to struggle with grief. Most are no closer to making sense of what happened that day than they were 20 years ago. We honor this day with memorials and services and reading of names. We pull up old photos and stories and committ to remain unified.
It looked all so serious and it was. We knew that we were living through a watershed moment of American history and we wanted to never forget.
Until we did.
Yes, we remember the day and the events and the feelings we experienced.
But we have forgotten what was so important to us on 9.12.21. It’s the day we committed to stay in touch better, check in with loved ones far away and be united as a country. It’s the day we were so confident that our lives would be changed forever and how we lived our day-to-day existence would be different because of what happened on 9.11.21
On the 20th anniversary of 9.11, the irony is not lost on me that the United States is living through another crisis. But this time around? Instead of it pulling us together as a country, the current pandemic has divided us. We assume our viewpoint is right and best and forget to listen to someone else who has an alternative vantagepoint. We have failed to be kind and patient with each other as well as willing to set aside personal beliefs for the greater good. We stopped looking for what holds us together and focus only on what draws us apart.
Can we go back to 9.12.21 and remember those feelings we swore we would never forget? Can we choose to love our neighbor every day, especially on the days he or she do not see eye-to-eye with us? Can we think of others first and ourselves second? Can we embody those emotions and feels that took root in our lives and we promised to keep?
It is important that we remember 9.11 today. May we honor the lost lives and the distrusted families and extend them more grace than we deserve.
Yet, I wish we would also remember 9.12 just as well. I wish we would remember all those promises we were committed to and chose to live them once again. I wish we would choose to embody those promises in our current pandemic crisis and truly try to live them daily. A little more grace with each other would be wonderful. A little less division and choosing to simply heal each other is so desperately needed. I pray we can put into our lives those things we promised ourselves to live and have somehow forgotten. May we turn to You, O God, and find ways to have more unity today. Tomorrow. Every day going forward.
For the time and space to remember 20 years ago and see where we can embrace more lessons learned, I am grateful.
Almighty God – Please be with those families who continue to struggle with 9.11.20. May they find strength in You. Bring them comfort. Help us to rediscover, live and prioritize those lessons we learned and quickly forgot from 9.11.21. Amen.