Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Putting a Positive Spin on Things, 10 Years Later.

I have found it interesting to watch the interactions of colleagues as various clergy and police friends discuss what they are doing on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  For some, they are happy to have the day back to normal, and are glad that their town or church is not doing any special commemoration, beyond perhaps some prayers in the regular service.

Others, like a few fire fighter friends, are furious that rescue workers who served in the aftermath were not being honored beyond what is occurring.  

The Nation's Tri is having a moment of silence before the race.  Initially billed as in honor of first responders and military casualties, after some Facebook discussion, it was expanded to honor all those who lost their lives in the attacks.

For me, I'm finding a great deal of comfort and closure in the project that St. Mary's is doing.  I'm going back to the first place that ever felt like home- my beloved Northern Virginia.  Ten years later, I'll be running in "my" city, with the Pentagon all fixed up, the Air Force memorial completed, and a new MLK,Jr memorial to check out.  Ten years ago, sonic booms roared through the skies of what would become like my hometown to me.  I need to be there to see the peaceful skies for myself.

Yep. My memorial plate from VA. 

And yeah, I'm a cop chaplain (as well as a parish priest).  I spend my life around people who ritualize things as a primary way of making sense of things.  Doesn't it make sense that an elaborate project helps me make sense of things, too?

The Diocese of Oregon shared an interesting story from the Episcopal News Service, by Tom Ehrich.  He declares terrorism failed.  He speaks of how New Yorkers, even knowing their city was still vulnerable to attack, opted to move on with their lives.  I feel the same way about "my" DC.  I chose Northern Virginia as my home for a number of years and still love it today, and I biked and rode Metro and drove the ridiculous streets and flew in and out of Regan airport.  The terrorists failed, because my life never became ruled by fear.

My mom- the artist in the family- did a really haunting quilt in the aftermath of the attacks, titled Tranquility Lost.  Parts of the design included raw burned edges of fabric.  This year, she's offered a free pattern for a design that she hopes incorporates the positive rebuilding that has taken place.  The terrorists failed, because they never stopped her art.

In fact, after the attacks, she made a quilt for one of the fire fighter widows, who was touched by the story of the chaplains who worked with the survivors and at Ground Zero.  The widow sent my mom a pair of her husband's duty pants to make something for the chaplains.  My chaplain stole is one of those.  It's easily my favorite stole ever.  If you are a cop or nurse or fire fighter, and ever saw me wear my stole, this is the one you saw.  If the church were burning down and I had time to save just one stole, I wouldn't even need to run into the building.  This one stays in my go-bag all the time.

Dark navy with a simple cross.  

Ten years ago, one of the Deacons went out on 9/11 to buy a scrapbook.  She had also lived in Alexandria and was heartbroken to see her past home so broken.  The community began writing in the book that day.    Now, the Book of Remembrance is again up in our Narthex for people to add their thoughts and memories to.  Evensong will be offered with a focus on reconciliation.  The terrorists failed; they haven't hurt our community, nor have they stopped Eugene and St. Mary's from being part of the healing and rebuilding throughout the world and in our own town.

Ten years later, life goes on.  We rebuild.  We try to figure out how to help the bereaved make a new normal out of a loss that no one ever wants to face.  We struggle with how we want to commemorate an event like this while focusing also on the good things that have happened since, on the rebuilding and the new normals.    

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