September 11, 2011
Ten Years OnI had just decided to start taking morning walks in my new neighborhood. I stepped out into the autumn air and walked down to the park and back. Along the way I saw the shell of a nut that had fallen from a tree, chewed ironically into the shape of a peace sign by some unknowing hippie squirrel. I drove into work listening to an album of songs by Paul McCartney, and I replayed "Silly Love Songs" at least once.
Shortly after settling in at my desk Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, I got a call from my wife. She sounded half asleep but wanted to tell me what she had seen on the news: a plane had flown into one of the towers at the World Trade Center in New York City.
It didn't take long before word spread throughout the office. The executive leadership team was away on retreat, but Jim Hoover, the senior staff on site, pulled together a time of prayer in our central conference room. A little twenty-inch television carried the picture as well as its feeble antenna allowed, and my friend Al Hsu interrupted our prayers to point out that the second tower was falling, falling, falling. We winced and cried and prayed and privately raged. Our world had been scattered like sheep without a shepherd.
It's ten years now. A lot has happened since then--in the great big world and in our little world. A lot of my coworkers have moved on to new work or retirement and been replaced by people whose September 11 story is different from IVP's story. Such is the nature of calamity: it makes its mark on all of us at the same time, but with time the experience becomes more diffuse, the story settles into our memories and we learn to manage it in increasingly distinct ways, and the mark ceases to unite us. Ten years on the feeling of September 11 is still fresh; many of the children of the victims are still children today. But as we continue to live and move and have our being, we are each making sense of it on our own. Eventually we ourselves will move on in the most profound sense, as the generation that witnessed September 11 is laid to rest, and it will slip silently into the long litany of the wrongs we have done, and the wrongs done to us.
What remains is the truth: with September 11, as with the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina and the Holocaust and all the calamities of our collective memory, what scatters us wounds us, and what wounds us scatters us. The world cries out daily for a shepherd who can collect us and bind our wounds. We all like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned his or her own way. And Christ has borne the iniquity of us all--because he can, and because he loves us. Blessed be the name of the Lord.