Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Day The Earth Stood Still

This is a re-post from several years ago. Still relevant today. "Never forget," we say. Honestly -- how could we ever?

I’m sure there will be many folks in the online community of blogging and social media who will be posting their memories of what took place on that tragic and frightening day - September 11, 2001 -- that seems so long ago, yet also remains as fresh as yesterday. 

And well they -- we -- should. As horrendous as those events were, and as much as Scripture encourages us to focus on those things in life which are true, noble, righteous, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, what happened on that unsuspecting, beautiful fall morning should never be taken lightly nor forgotten. 

In every documentary, commercial, newscast, magazine article and interview that I’ve watched, read or heard, and every person I’ve spoken with since then, it’s always mentioned that everyone remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing when the first report came in of a plane crashing into one of New York City’s Twin Towers. 

I was sitting at my desk at work, typing up a document on my computer and listening to some music.  The radio personality on the station I was listening to suddenly cut into a song to report that a plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers in New York City, and that was all the information they had just then, but would keep the listening audience posted. I remember thinking, "Oh Lord, no!!"  

In 2001, I was a ‘newbie’ in my relationship with Jesus, but having had been in a Bible study/prayer group for almost a year, I knew what I had to do. I called our group’s leader and explained the situation to her, asked her to start up our phone prayer chain, took a minute or two to pray with her on the phone, then hung up with her and called my husband to see if he’d heard about the plane crash. He had and we talked about it for a few minutes, my typing work totally abandoned and forgotten. 

While we were on the phone, the news came in that ANOTHER plane had smashed into the other tower. I remember feeling like a bolt of white, hot electricity had just shot through my body. It became hard to breathe, the same feeling I would experience a year later when my doctor would tell me that I had Stage 2 breast cancer. I told my husband I’d call him back, then called my prayer group leader again, telling her what happened, and that something was terribly wrong, this second plane hitting the other tower definitely WAS NOT a coincidence. I got up and went into my supervisor’s vacant office and prayed by myself for a few minutes, scared to death, unsure of what was really going on. 

My hands were shaking as I went back to my desk and tried to get some info on the Internet, but it was slow going and of course, I later found out that was because so many people were doing the same thing simultaneously. I kept an ear to the radio and called my husband again, and then coworkers started coming by my workstation. The phrase ‘terrorist attack’ came at me from everywhere like a swarm of angry hornets. In between prayers in my head, I kept thinking,

"this CAN’T be happening."  

Our director had a television in his conference room and several of my coworkers and some others from the office across the hall began to gather there as the director tried to position the TV antenna (there was no cable) for some good reception to find out what in the world was going on. Nobody sat down in the room, we all just stood huddled together, watching the horror unfold on the screen. Some began to cry; others swore out loud; all of us looked scared to death as we watched planes crashing, towers collapsing, smoke pouring through the streets and people running everywhere.  Time truly seemed to stand still. 

After awhile, I left the conference room, I don’t remember why. But I do remember that as I walked down one of the aisles between workstations, a coworker, who had remained at her desk, cried out,

 “Oh my God….a plane just crashed into the Pentagon!!!” 

I ran back to the conference room, where people from all over our floor continued to gather, watching as this latest news was confirmed on TV. My mind went to my kids, who were 8 and 5 and in school:

Were they going to be safe or were they at risk? 

Should I leave to go and get them…and take them where….home? 

Would we even be safe there? 

I went back to my cubicle to call my husband from my desk phone because my cell phone wasn’t working…no one’s was. He said to sit tight for a bit. I remember crying and whispering silent prayers for God to protect us, to help the people in the planes, in the towers, in the streets, in the Pentagon, and those who were involved in the emergency response. 

And then came the report of Flight 93, crashing into a field near a town called Shanksville in Pennsylvania. People started yelling in my office then, and it was like watching all hell break loose. It was all so surreal. I didn’t know what to do or what to think. 

I walked out of my office, out of my building and across the street to the tiny courtyard behind what used to be an old church but had been renovated into a local community theater. I sat down on one of the three benches there, thinking about all that had just happened in those few hours, my heart breaking for those who’d lost their lives or their families, for the people who were risking their lives to help amid the horrific chaos and carnage, and wanting just to hold my own family close.

I remember looking up and seeing how beautiful that September sky looked with its white, fluffy clouds floating by, the vibrant blue color, the brightness of the sun; I watched as sparrows flew in and out of the courtyard, chirping and looking for food. A few bees buzzed around me, and two squirrels chased each other up and down a nearby tree. Two butterflies made their way past me and into one of the bushes. I thought about what a contrast this peaceful scene was to the bedlam going on some 60 miles away as I began hearing sirens in the distance. “Dear God, please help us,” was all I could say, as I stood up and walked back towards my office, having made the decision to gather up my gear and leave my job to take my kids out of school and bring them home. That was a whole other crazy scenario, but several hours later, my husband and I both were finally able to do so.

It seemed like our television at home was on 24/7 over the next several days, with every news station playing the videos over and over of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers and their subsequent collapsing, as well as interviews of seemingly everyone who had in one way or another been involved in the 9/11 disaster. 

Both of my children remember that day, and I remember being extremely irritated with my husband for keeping the news on with the continual video loop of all the crashes playing while our kids were in the room. I always tried to herd them out, but sometimes, I just wasn’t there to do so.  Two days after the attacks, I went out food shopping. I came home to find my husband with the news on and both kids parked in front of the television, coloring pictures on the coffee table. After I put the groceries away, I came out to the living room and my 5 year old daughter held up her pretty little picture of brightly colored flowers, birds and a house for me to see. I told her I thought it was beautiful and she smiled. 

I looked over to see what my 8 year old son, who had been diagnosed with a chromosomal disorder and an autism spectrum disorder three years prior, was drawing. Although highly functioning, he had only recently begun to draw recognizable pictures and I was interested to see what his was. I caught my breath when I realized he’d drawn the Twin Towers, with an airplane seeming to head straight for it. I reached down and snatched up the picture as if it were a rattlesnake about to harm my child. My anger started to mount and I was upset that two days later, this tragedy was obviously way too ingrained in this child’s mind from seeing it played out over and over on television that he had to draw a picture of it. 

But then I noticed that my son had drawn the people’s faces looking out of the plane and they were all smiling happily, as was the big, beautiful sun in the sky next to the plane. My son placed himself and someone named Joy (still no clue who that was/is) on the ground below, also smiling. 

With my voice cracking from both anger and sorrow, I asked him, “Honey, why are all the people smiling?” His reply: 

“Because, Mommy, in my world, the plane doesn’t crash and nobody dies.” 

There are days when I wish I…all of us…could be a part of that world. Thy Kingdom come, O LORD.
Until then, may we never forget.

Show me your favor, God. Show me your favor.
I go to You for safety.
I will find safety in the shadow of Your wings.
There I will stay until the danger is gone.  ~ Psalm 57:1, NIRV


  1. Oh....wow, I don't remember reading this post past year. I had chills going up both sides of my arms and legs....especially with your dear son's picture. I will never forget and neither will anyone else. Thank you for this beautiful post of remembrance.

    1. Thank you, sweet Lori. Your kind words always help to make my day.

  2. Thy Kingdom come, O LORD. What a day that will be. Thanks for posting. God bless.


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