I remember September 11, 2001 oh-so-clearly.
As you well know, it was a brilliantly sunny early fall day. The sky was blue, blue, blue with not a cloud. The trees seemed extra green.
I remember exactly what I was wearing: khaki cropped pants (zipped up the side; I remember them SO WELL), short-sleeved denim snap-front shirt and Kenneth Cole loafers.
I was to tutor that morning around 10:30, so the boys and I were just around the apartment that morning. At some point, John called me from his work to say that something was going on in New York and I should turn on the TV.
So I did. And I watched, as Walter and Clayton played around me. I prayed. And then the first tower fell, and I began to weep and weep. I went next door to my best friend Meda's apartment and we hugged and cried. I came home and watched as the second tower fell and wept harder. Walter was worried about me and offered me a Matchbox car to make me feel better.
I called my mom and dad in hysterical tears, making sure that no one in my family was scheduled to fly anywhere that day.
I left to go tutoring and brought the boys with me. No one where I taught had seen a TV and they had no idea how awful it was. My instinct was that we should call this whole thing off and all go home. But we didn't. I stayed and taught my class for an hour and half.
Then we went home and heard about the Pentagon attack and Flight 93's crash.
That night, John and I watched the news and saw footage of people jumping from the towers. At one point, Walter (who was just 3) got up from bed and came into the living room. I was so upset that he might have seen what we just saw.
The next morning, I remember waking up as if it were any other day and my next thought was that the world had changed and it would never be the same. It was like waking up and remembering that someone you love had died. It wasn't a normal day.
It felt especially eerie that one plane had been so close to us in Boston.
I also remember the silence of the skies in the next few days. When air traffic resumed, I remember feeling a jump in my heart the first few times I saw or heard an airplane.
I remember reading the New York Times every day. One night, looking at pictures in the paper, Walter looking over my shoulder, he said, "I want to go to God." He asked unanswerable questions about those events, who, where and most of all, WHY. The one we just had the hardest time answering.
The Times published brief profiles on all the victims of that day. And we read almost all of them, and prayed and wept.
It still makes me weep, the horror of it all, the magnitude, the wondering.
I remember watching the news in the weeks that followed and filling up with anger. I wanted something WORSE than death for those that perpetrated this event. I wanted a WORSE hell, a WORSE separation from God. I was struck by the thought that there is no WORSE. Separation from God is separation from God. And save for God's grace in my life, save for His plucking me from a life ignorant of Him, I would deserve all that those criminals deserve. In God's economy, is there a difference between sinners? You may disagree, but I think not.
EDIT: I was reminded by a friend of something that I think I need to clarify on this last part of my post. I think most people who read my blog know me in real life, so I sometimes assume they understand the worldview portrayed my writing. For the sake of clarity, I want to say that there is, of course, a difference between sinners. Sinners who are in Christ have had their transgressions covered by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. When God looks at those who belong to Christ, He sees them as clothed in Jesus' robe of righteousness (the theological term for this is the imputed righteousness of Christ). Martin Luther said that a Christian is simul iustus et peccator, meaning at the same time a sinner and yet justified. This is a core Reformation distinctive.
Another point made by my friend, that is so simple and yet SO KEY, is that whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old has gone; the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old and the new are worlds apart; Jesus offers us newness of life in Himself.