Eighteen years ago today I was on my way to visit parishioners in a local nursing home when a radio announcer interrupted a light-hearted contest to announce that a plane had crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. I remember the fear. I remember the wave of compassion for the dying. I remember the anger when we learned that it was not a colossal accident, but a planned attack.
From that first bitter moment, I remember the whole day with an uncanny vividness. I still see the terror on the faces of the elderly and their confused care-givers. I abandoned my plan to visit a couple of people before going home to work on sermon preparation. Instead, I moved from room to room, offering prayer and passages of hope from the Scripture. I prayed at every nurses’ station, and brought what comfort I could where I was.
That is what I remember because of my mind’s default settings.
Today I CHOOSE to remember something else. I will remember the beauty of the Towers against the New York City skyline. I will remember the spirited bustle of the area. I will recall the model of efficiency and the streamlined trade machine that set the pace for world-wide exchange. I will hear the laughter and banter of the work-place. I will see the shops, hear the mix of human conversation, argument and greeting. I will remember a place alive with purpose and excitement. I will celebrate a living scene.
And today I will pray for peace. I will pray with full understanding “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” I know that I will not escape the pain of the memory altogether, but let it be the clean, fresh pain of a healing wound, not the dark, brooding pain of a festering sore under an angry scar.
In my memory as in my living out of my faith, I will choose life.