September 11, 2001. A day whose events have defined a generation. A day that turned our world and our worlds upside down. A day where we all remember exactly what we were doing when we first heard.
What is there to say about that day ten years ago and that day today. It was horrific. So many lost their lives and so many families have been dealing with devastating loss ever since. It plunged a nation into shock and fear. Terrorism became a conversation.
This is the thing: events that define our 9/11 are events that have happened and continue to happen throughout out global community. And, as scary as it is to even consider this, it’s probably not going to end. At the very least, we still must deal with the reality of death, the effects of loss, and coping with fear and uncertainty in the midst of life.
So how do we do that? How do we cope with death and fear and uncertainty? How do we keep going when our personal world is turned upside down? And once we move through the worst, how do we remember?
I’m not going to presume anything for anyone. We all have deep within us a strength that will sustain us in our darkest hours. We may not feel it and we may truly wonder if and how we will persevere. It takes courage and commitment to stay with the pain that’s part of the healing process. And sometimes it’s complicated and confusing because it’s entwined with people and behaviors that aren’t helpful or healthy for us.
Ritual and remembrance can help us not only heal, but it also helps us mark a shared, defining experience. Of course, lives lost and changed are much richer and more complex than what we can acknowledge through shared rituals or remembrance ceremonies. That’s why I like to create a special time where I sit quietly to reflect and pray. Sometimes I write. I almost always listen to music. I sit with my memories and thoughts and listen.
As I’ve been meditating on what to share in this blog post for this day, I am reminded of a verse from Exodus:
This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.
The Israelites were slaves in Egypt. God raised Moses up to challenge Pharaoh to let God’s people go. This is known as the story of the exodus. Passover was established to commemorate the exodus. It is celebrated by faithful Jews around the world every year as a remembrance.
Remembrance is a sacred opportunity that can be about many things. Why not take some time this September 11 for your own special remembrance ceremony. It can be as simple as a walk or sitting quietly in under a tree. The gift of remembrance is entrusting those we love to eternal memory.
September 11, 2011. Ten years. We won’t forget, but we will go on.
September 11 Bonus: Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten
Photo credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).