Where were you on 9/11?

Every year at this time, for the past 17 years, this question comes up in conversations: "Where were you on 9/11?"

That day in 2001 was a watershed event for much of the world.  I know I will never forget that day.

December 7, 1941 was that day for my father when he was still in elementary school.

My sister probably remembers November 22, 1963 or maybe April 4, 1968 when she was a teenager.

Where were you that day?

I was living in Japan at the time. There was 13 hours difference between Kobe and New York, so I had just put my son to be around 9:00 pm on a Tuesday evening, and then continued reading a book while everything was happening in the USA.

I did not discover what had happened until about 6:45 am on Wednesday in Japan (5:45 pm, Tuesday in New York).  By that time, most everyone in the USA had spent 8-9 hours watching non-stop news on CNN or other networks.  It was just beginning for me.

I sent my son to school that morning like usual, and he learned what had happened along with all of the other students.  He was in an international school, and only a 15-20% of the student body was from North America.  I think that about a third of the student were Muslims from all over the world, and a large portion of Asians from Japan, Korea and China.

The school handled the situation better than expected, and though there was some heightened security for the rest of that school year, it was not overbearing or unreasonable.

The Americans from the church I was serving had a prayer vigil that Wednesday evening, and the Sunday after 9/11 may have been one of the most attended services in the history of the church.

I wish I could say that I offered the right words that day, or that my musicians offered the right music, or that our prayers offered met the needs of everyone that attended that day.  I know that was not the case. 

Given the mixed emotions that many were feeling, I led worship that honored that mix of feelings.  Folks wanting a "revenge of the Lord" sermon didn't get it, but instead heard a word of love and compassion for victims and their families.  Folks who wanted to avoid the topic altogether could not escape it that day.  I know we wept, mourned and lamented that day with the Psalmists.  It was a Biblical response to the event, thought it might not have been satisfying to all.

And then we went about our lives, best we could.

The group of parents that meets with me on Sunday mornings between services discussed this very question last Sunday.  All had their own stories.

One was a student who heard about it at school, another was single who learned about it at work, others heard about it in the course of their work days.  Each of us, different ages, experienced a unique world happening from different perspectives.  Seventeen years later, it is still on our minds.

In a moment of reflection, one of those parents said that things have not been the same since 9/11. He questioned if the deep divides that are evident in our country today might be traced back to that infamous day.

I think he is on to something.

I believe that talking about it openly and with lives of faith may lead us to bridge those divides.

So, where were you on 9/11?






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