Today, everybody has been posting their “Where were you when?” stories about 9/11. Mine is pretty unremarkable. I lived my whole life in Texas. I didn’t know anyone who was directly affected by the attacks. I have an aunt who, at that time, was living in the New York-area and working in New York. Thankfully, nothing happened to her.
Ten years ago today, I was ten years old. It was a regular morning in fifth grade at Gattis Elementary School in Round Rock, Texas. Class had just started an I was sitting at my desk, when my teacher, Ms. Newell-Byrd, answered the phone. I remember her stopping what she was doing, seizing the remote, and turning the TV on to the news. There was an image of the World Trade Center with smoke billowing out.
I don’t remember how many towers had been hit at that point, but it was before either had collapsed.
My teacher said, “A plane has hit the World Trade Center, and it wasn’t a mistake,”
I remember being completely confused by her statement.
She also told us that that day was a day that would go down in history books.
Later that day my mom came and picked me, my brother, and sister up from school. I told her about what I saw on TV, as if she didn’t already know. I don’t remember what she said to me, but she was uneasy. My dad had been on a business trip, I think it was to California, and was supposed to fly home that day, but not until later. All flights everywhere had been cancelled. My dad and his colleagues ended up renting a car and driving all the way back to Texas.
My mom told me later that after she heard of the terrorist attacks, she went and filled our mini-van up with gas. She was prepared to take us out of harm’s way, anywhere, if she had to.
I didn’t understand the magnitude of the attacks then. And while I have learned a lot since, I still don’t. In the past few weeks, I have been researching 9/11. I don’t know why, I guess just to make better sense of it.
I’m stopping because I don’t know why i’m writing this. I feel like, as a person, I’m pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. That’s what this event is causing me to realize.
9/11 has helped me to realize that evil, real evil, truly exists. But, so does pure goodness and kindness. And I thank God for that.
Where was God on September 11?
“I know you’re mad at Me right now. That’s alright. People have been mad at Me before and will be again. Being mad is part of being human. My Son got mad, too. It’s all right to be mad sometimes at injustice, for example, or the lack of charity.”
“You probably think I am unjust and uncharitable when an airplane goes down like that. All those people lost. The children gone. It doesn’t seem right; it can’t be loving. You ask, ‘Where was God?’ Why did He allow that to happen?”
“I allow it to happen because I allow you freedom. I could have left you on a string and made you dance all day without getting tired. I could have moved your mouth for you and made you sing all night without growing hoarse. I could have pulled a wire that would have let you soar skyward and never fall.”
“I could have, but I didn’t because I love you so much. I want you to be free to decide when to dance and sing. Free to determine when you will come to Me in faith and hope. Because you are free, some of you choose not to dance or sing. Some of you select hatred over love, revenge over forgiveness, bombs over a helping hand. As you choose, I watch. I do not disappear. I listen to both the songs and the bombs. AND I REMEMBER.”
“Where was God?” you wonder…I was there. I whispered in the ear of a little girl, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am with you.’ I held the hand of a business woman as tightly as she clutched mine. I cradled a pilot against my shoulder as if he were a baby again.”
“Amid the paralyzing fear, I was there, as I was there with my Son in the garden. Amid the unbearable pain, I was there, as I was with Him as He was whipped. Amid the terrible realization that life was ending too soon, I was there, with Him as He hung on the cross and asked, like you, “My God, why have you forsaken Me?”
“I had not forsaken Him. I did not forsake them. I was there as they fell, and as they rose to eternal joy. I listened to their anger, answered their questions and showed them why they had been created. Not to end that way, but to live with Me forever.”
“In an instant, they came into existence. As you did. In an instant, they left this world. As you will. But beyond that last instant, I kept my promise… A little girl dances, a business woman sings, and a pilot keeps his wings forever.”