Thursday, September 11, 2008

Love Your Enemies

I remember vividly this day 7 years ago. I remember who first told me about a plane hitting a building, then another. I watched in disbelief as the TV screen showed that mighty tower slide down and diffuse itself and hundreds of souls into dust and ash through the streets of New York. I remember the smallest details, the emotion, room I was in, the bright blue of the sky that day, the turns on Lincoln Drive as I sped along to get to Rebecca at Mount St. Joseph's. That was the only thought. Find loved ones, be safe. I remember making scattered phone calls, then calls not getting through. Everyone scared, blank expressions, whispers... "What is happening?" Then prayers welling up, pews filling up and overflowing; the tenderness of people's words, the slower pace we gave our steps, and how that lasted for a time. Then another thing crept into the place of silent shock; anger, bitterness, and a searching gaze into the world to see who would "pay" for this. By coincidence, or Providence, you can decide, the gospel for today in the three year cycle that the Church planned long ago happens to speak of love for our enemies. "Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you... turn the other cheek." Jesus uses a dramatic rabbinic method of teaching here to wake up his listeners. We've heard this a thousand times, but how should we on this day of remembered terror and attack respond? When these words filter through our emotions and trickle down to the sanctuary of the soul, what are we led to do? Ultimately, forgive. And another thought came to many even on the day of September 11, 2001. Self-reflection...
Why us? Though the nature of these horrific acts is rooted in chaos, something sparked this madness. Perhaps it should drive us into a deep collective examination of conscience as a people. How does the world see us? What good have we done that has merited this action? What good have we failed to do that has drawn such anger and destruction? Are we stewards and allies or have we grown fat on our riches and bullies in the eyes of other nations? It seems to me that we have both weeds and wheat growing in our amber waves of grain. A day like September 11 is a day to walk through these fields and ponder these questions, wrap them in bundles of prayer, and turn them over to the Harvest Master Who knows our hearts better than anyone.
I'll close with a few lines from David Wilcox's poignant 9-11 song "City of Dreams." It's on iTunes and well worth a listen today. I pray we can make it's closing thought a reality.
All the flags on front porches
And the banners of unity
Spanning the bridges
From the top of the fence
As we heal up the wounds
And take care of each other
There's more love in this nation
Than hate and revenge...
- David Wilcox
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