Showing posts from September, 2011

The Writing Process

I'm pouring out post after post on 9/11 to get out of my system those things which I need to say but which don't belong in my sermon.  This is done in hopes that once these things are out, I can see what is left.  What I know is left right now is the stone of hope that is hewn out of the mountain of despair.  Perhaps it is connected to those five smooth stones.  Or perhaps it is one of them.  What mountains do we hew the other four stones out of, then?  Grief, hope, memory, and even joy are all the tumblers now as I polish the stones up.

09/16/11 - The Stone of Hope

I've been rereading what I wrote in those days after September 11th, 2001.  Here's what I said at our water communion service on September 16th, 2001:

          Like many of you, I have been inundated with the thoughts of millions this week.  I hear speaker after speaker on television and radio, I read comment after comment in the papers and on e-mail.  They blur together--the President, a minister, a fireman, a friend, a teacher, a rabbi, a senator, an imam...  I marvel at their coherence sometimes, their ability to capture the depth of tragedy in a soundbite.  I found myself unable to put pen to paper all week, still soaking it all in, still trying to make sense out of chaos.  What follows here, therefore, is one person’s thoughts--still mutable, still very much in turmoil.            My first thoughts, of course, are for the victims and their families of this week’s horrible events.  I hear phrases like “an end to innocence” and “our world will never be the same,” being exch…

Visiting "Ground Zero"

9/11 had a large impact on my ministry.  About two years later, in 2003, now ministering in New England, my colleague Jennie Barrington and I, were talking often how 9/11 had shaped our ministry.  We also were big Simon and Garfunkel fans, and Simon and Garfunkel were doing their "Old Friends" reunion tour.  We bought two tickets to go see them in New Jersey, and we hit the road.  We went two places: the concert, and Ground Zero.  That was it -- we didn't do a Broadway show or see the Statue of Liberty, or go to the Met.  We had two things we wanted to do: that concert, and see Ground Zero for ourselves.

I had been to New York City only two or three times before -- once to visit a boyfriend in college over the summer, once with my college's Glee Club on a concert trip.  I had driven through it a couple of times on my way to New England, also, but all I can say about that is that the tunnels and bridges are expensive, and that driving through New York City six months …

Do You Remember?

When I was younger, particularly, but really for a lifetime, I can remember instances where people were talking about how they remember where they were when they heard that John F. Kennedy was shot or that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot.  I was born after both of those instances.  But I could tell that there was something important about sharing those memories.  For my generation, we had a bit of this with the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion.  I remember that I was in science class at school when I heard about it.  But for us, really, it's now 9/11 that holds this strange fixed moment in our cultural consciousness.  I think it's true not just for us, but maybe a bit more so, since we aren't old enough to have experienced those tragic deaths of JFK and MLK, much less the World War II moments that still loom large for that greatest generation.

My story of 9/11/01 is intricately woven with the beginning of my ministry.  I was in my first month of ministry, fresh out of s…

Talking to My Child About 9/11

There are a lot of people who have written a lot of wise words about how to talk to children about 9/11.  I'm not a child psychologist, or a teacher, or an expert on trauma.  I am a parent, though, and ultimately every parent has to handle this themselves, whether or not they are also a a child psychologist, teacher, or trauma expert.

So I talked to my child about 9/11 today on the way to school in the car.  She was born a few years after 9/11/01, so it wasn't something that had really come up before.  But we had switched the radio from NPR to her favorite music station--the one that plays all the pre-teen pop songs--and they were talking about 9/11.  So I just asked her, "Do you know what they're talking about when people are talking about 9-11 or September 11th?"  She didn't.  So I told her, in simple terms, that on September 11th, ten years ago, before she was born, some men, which we call terrorists, had taken over some planes, using knives, and wanted to…