Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Reflections after six years

I am sure that 9/11 will be one of those days that I will remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, what I was thinking. Some kid in 50 years will ask me what it was like, and I will probably still remember every moment.

My friend Gabe had spent the night, I think because his family was out of town. As we woke up to head out to school, we checked out the morning news on the TV. We watched replays of the first plane hit the tower. Then we found ourselves watching a live shot of a plane hit the second tower. I distinctly remember my adolescent male mind going through this process:

"Whoa, that was a cool explosion."
(sick feeling overwhelming my conscience, as I wake up to the realization that this is not an action movie on a Hollywood backlot; this is real life, happening to real people)
"Holy s**t...what is going on here?"
(at the time, "clean" words just didn't do the situation justice, and my adolescent mind obviously was still struggling to find mature ways to express itself)

I looked at Gabe. He looked at me. We walked out of the house and drove to school, mostly in silence, with a few "whoa's" muttered under our breathe. We listened to the news at school, and we discussed the events with our friends. I learned that another plane had crashed at the Pentagon, and another mysteriously had crashed in a field. This all happened two days after my 17th birthday.

As I'm six years older and wiser, and reflecting back on that day, I still have lots of questions: Why did this have to happen? Why couldn't someone have stopped the terrorists before it came to this? What kind of sick person thinks about "cool explosions" instead of thinking about people's lives? How is God working throughout this entire situation? How can the church be a source of comfort and hope for the future, rather than use others' pain and fear as a mode for evangelism?

It's strange to think about, but that horrible day brought about a mysterious unity upon our country. While many turned that unity into an angry call for war, I prefer to reflect on our unity resulting from pain. We were all hurt, and our memories seared with that experience, because it showed the worst side of humanity as lives were taken. But there was a lot of hope that stemmed from that pain, because we picked up the pieces, we rebuilt and pressed on, and took care of one another in the midst of tragedy. We can all relate to pain, and we all desire healing. I'm reminded of Jesus, who binds up the brokenhearted and brings healing to the wounded. That gives me hope.

I know that experience changed me by giving me more compassion for people I have never met, but remembering that strangers in pain across a continent or an ocean are people that Jesus loves.


  1. I hope that blogging the phrase "s**t" doesn't offend anyone. It's not intended to. Rather, I'm just sharing my genuine thoughts and feelings from that experience. I'm not proud to be thinking of explosions and cuss words at the time, but I do know that reflecting and evaluating those knee-jerk reactions has changed me for the better. I'm not who I was six years ago. I doubt anyone really is.

  2. Thanks for being honest Joel. It's not something anyone would do.