Sunday was the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Center disaster. It is another one of those dates that you just can't forget. 9/11. September 11, 2001. It is a date that touched every person. I happened to be working at a spot that had television tuned to a morning news show. I happened to be in view of the TV when they showed video of the first plane hitting. I remember that I stood there wondering what was really happening. By the time the second plane hit, it was clear that our country was under attack. My first thought, of course, was for my family. Fortunately I was able to get in touch with them and we all were safe at our homes by that evening. There were so many people who did not have that outcome. The strangest thing for Ken and I was the absence of airplanes flying overhead. When you live so close to the "worlds busiest airport" - Ohare Airport - as well as a second large international airport - you are very used to seeing and/or hearing planes. It was so quiet. I remember feeling powerless to do anything to help.
Last year Ken and I visited New York City. It was my first ever trip there. It was also the first week that the new "One World Trade" building's observation floor was open to the public. We were fortunate to get tickets to this amazing place. There are windows 360 degrees, so you can see all of the city. We stood at this spot for some time, looking down at one of the memorial pools - which is actually the footprint of the destroyed building. Notice the black square on the lower right corner.
That view from the 102nd floor was breath taking. When you see so many buildings crammed so close together, and then you consider the magnitude of the 9/11 disaster, you wonder how so many people survived. While walking on those streets, I tried to imagine the panic and the terror that filled the hearts and minds of all of those souls trying to leave these crowded streets.
Fifteen years after this event, I was remembering a quote from "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood". Fred Rogers said that his mother always told him during any catastrophe to look for the helpers. It is a good way to shift your focus away from the horror of the events and to see the humanity that presses forward to help one another. One of my favorite spots in New York City was this church.
Ken and I toured the museum and walked among the many preserved artifacts from 9/11. It is a tour that every American should take. This is a place that we should all walk. There were so many stories of the helpers. It is a place to honor and remember those who died that day. Ken and I got shirts from the museum store.
The outlet that I found to do SOMETHING after 9/11 was prayer. I went to many interdenominational prayer meetings. And it was during those times of prayer that I could feel the light pushing out the heavy darkness that had settled over the United States and also over me. It was during those times of prayer, 15 years ago, that I understood exactly what terrorism does to people.
The light of Jesus was able to cast out fear. And fear is the central operation of the enemy in terrorism. Because of 9/11 and the impact these prayer times were for me, I view each new story of terrorism from a different perspective. I always look for the helpers. And I always look to THE helper - Jesus. He is the light of the world. In Him there is no darkness. And in this dark world, those of us who carry the life of Jesus do indeed shine brightest when it is the darkest!
I realize that it is now September 13 and most people have breathed a sigh of relief that 9/11 has passed and they don't have to think about it anymore. But I knew that I needed to wait a few days to share this blog. It is good to step back and take another look when something is so difficult to think about. So let this be your "another look" at this fifteenth anniversary of a terrible act of terrorism. But I encourage you to see the helpers. And even today, when a sad or terrible story comes across your newsfeed, look for the helpers. And turn to Jesus. He will fill you with His light so you can shine brightly today!
Jesus, thank you for stirring your people into action when crisis hit. Thank you for the courage and boldness of the police officers and fire fighters who are often the first helpers on the scene. Holy Spirit give us reminders to look for the helpers. Stir us all to focus on your light, Jesus and guide our steps. Let us be helpers and light bringers! Amen