Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years

Image via Our English

I was at work that beautiful early autumn Tuesday. The skies were clear as crystal here on the east coast. We watched the events of that day unfold with our patients. Some of us gathered in one gentleman's room, watching the television and discussing how anyone could accidentally hit the Trade Center. We were hoping it was an accident. Then we saw the second plane fly into the second building. We just stared at the TV for some time, no one daring to be the one to say it. Then the patient said quietly, "I think I'm going to be sick."

One of our Vietnam Vets began having nightmares that night.

On Wednesday, as happened in so many places, someone called in a bomb threat to the building adjacent to ours and we spent the morning evacuating patients. We knew it was a hoax yet there's that tickle in the back of your brain that says "But what if..." so we evacuated patients to the offices and waiting area on the other side of the building. One patient, his room closest to the adjacent building, refused to move. He was depressed. He wasn't moving. Our Vietnam Vet began hallucinating.  A ninety year old cardiac patient began crying and having chest pains. "Why would someone do this" was all she would say for the majority of the day. She refused to be moved back to her room after the building next door had been cleared.

That afternoon I learned that I knew someone who had been in 1 World Trade Center.

On Thursday I sat in the Emergency Room with a long time co-worker and friend as she was told that her husband had died of a heart attack on the golf course. She physically collapsed, just like the Trade Center buildings. To say that week sucked is putting it mildly and yet I was unscathed compared to others.

Image via My Portion

I used to say, at the time, that I was so glad I didn't have to explain all of this to my daughter, who was a toddler at the time. This past week they have been discussing the attack during chapel, Bible, and geography at her school. She has been asking us so many questions, tough questions. I see her sitting, staring away, and when I ask her what she's thinking about she says "Oh nothing" but a question about the World Trade Center follows soon afterwards.

I wish I could make more sense of this, ten years later. It is so hard not to let your heart be consumed by fear and hate. But as a Christian my response cannot be hate. Nor can it be fear. It is a conscious choice not to succumb to these emotions because I have chosen to trust Him. God allows us to choose and of course He wants us to choose Him, to love him of our own free will not coercion or fear, because He loves us with a strength that is overwhelming and humbling. Because He gives us free will, it naturally follows that not everyone chooses Christ. There are other voices in the world to listen to- to choose- and because of that there is hate. We all deal with it. And because He has given us free will, He also expects us, each of us, to bear the consequences of our choices. Unfortunately, that often means that others bear the consequences as well.

It's tough, this deciding to believe and to trust when some things in life are clearly unknowable, illogical, and terrifying. It's tough to answer a middle schooler's questions. How many conversations have we had about this in the past week?  I can see the fear and puzzlement in her eyes. I can see her struggling to make sense of it. How do you explain? I take her in my arms and say, "I don't know honey. We know what God has told us and I believe He will get us there. And one day God will take us in His arms and tell us 'You're safe now.'"

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