Saturday, September 11, 2010

Let's Turn People's Heart to the Lord on 9/11!

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One of my favorite new authors is Sarah Cunningham (and Facebook friends!), whose first book, 'Picking Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life's Weeds,' released earlier this year (you can read my review here). 

In her book, Sarah shared her observations about the attack on the World Trade Center, and how she first heard about it:

The day that halted my generation’s leisurely flight [through our world], I reported to work as usual as the tragedy up the coastline hit the news.

“Did you hear that a plane just hit the World Trade Center Tower in New York?” the church receptionist asked me as I passed her desk on the way back to my office.

That’s weird, I remember thinking. Why is the church receptionist suddenly playing anchor woman? She’s never passed on a headline before.

But this was not enough to jar my oblivion. The news was still calling the crash an accident and thus, my reaction was somewhat shrugging disregard, mustering only momentary empathy for the family of whatever pilot had manned what I expected was a twin-engine plane crash.

This, I’m afraid, is the way I hear—or rather don’t hear—the daily news. I consider whatever trauma or tragedy is reported for just a minute before letting my music or my shopping list sweep it away.

It wasn’t until the plane was identified as an airliner that my heart joined my head in the listening. And it wasn’t until a second plane crashed and the FAA grounded all planes that I began to realize how my generation’s concept of our world was crashing as well. 

She went with a group from her church to New York City to help in the relief effort. Here is her description of the scene:

The typical buzz of New York’s streets had been replaced by the steady crank of machinery and generators—a rumble that we adapted to surprisingly quickly, like the tick of a clock you didn’t even hear in the background.

Nothing was as it was just a few days before.

Any other day, for example, this much chaos and effort would’ve signified some sort of city festival. Now, a street fair of blue and white tarped tents lined the sidewalks to serve as a makeshift town, ready to shelter the nearby relief workers with food and services. The ground that would’ve normally been kept clear by city sanitation workers, if not for an occasional stray leaf or piece of litter, was dusted with a thin coating of shredded paper and glass particles, as if a local Office Max had been incinerated and its contents dumped on the scene like unwelcome confetti.

…Standing there in soaked rain gear, shivering, my voice jumbled through a weighty mask, I had some of the most compelling conversations of my life with people who became close friends out of necessity rather than through years of passing each other in the hallway each day.

The shared activity and the camaraderie brought the workers together:

I don’t know who among us had faith before we arrived, but it seemed as if nearly everyone found it or recovered it somewhere in the crevices of Ground Zero.
The relief workers on site were stretched to exhaustion as we forced our eyes awake at night—days after the last survivor had been found, but still days before all the searching would end. Regardless of your prior beliefs, when you find the end of your own energy supply, it is at least tempting to look for some source of renewal outside yourself.
This is why I often found myself praying furiously—as I had in childhood—for things like the safety of the firefighters who refused to stop searching for fallen comrades even as rain poured down on the wreckage….Even my prayers were sometimes interrupted by the unidyllic blasts of of a bullhorn warning that parts of the tower might crumble further, in which case we were told simply to run in the opposite direction.
While the tower lay in pieces, shreds of people’s lives lay exposed in Union Square as stunned family members frantically searched for news of their loved ones. …Talk about God was as common as talk about the weather.  Questions like, “Why did this happen?” and “How will we go on?” became the standard replacement for the usual “How are you?” and “Nice day we’re having” greetings.
…I’m convinced God was there somewhere too, browsing about the tents and the conversations, reuniting with people he had not talked to in ages and lapping up quality time with others before the moment passed and our to-do lists invited us back into oblivion, to routine tasks like picking up dry cleaning or washing our cars.”

I love hearing Sarah’s perspective as a committed Christ follower on her service in New York City during that turbulent and tragic time in the history of this country. She also just posted an article at Relevant Magazine’s website entitled ‘Why 9/11 Isn’t About Quran Burning.’ I encourage you to go here to read what her thoughts are on the controversy brewing in Florida – supposedly in Jesus’ name….

I pray that we will point people to Jesus during this time of remembrance, and that love – not hatred – will reign.

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