Signposts: Daily Devotions

Thursday, September 11

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
—Psalm 46:1-3

September eleventh, nine-one-one. A date we in the United States will never forget.  Seven years later, we remember exactly where we were when we heard the news. I don't live in or near Manhattan, so my shock and horror were different from those who lived in New York, or those who were there that day.

But I do know a husband and wife who lost one of their two sons when the Twin Towers exploded, and every time I see something about 9/11, I think of them. I cannot imagine what it is like for them to see those terrible images played over and over on the television.

A few years ago, my husband and I visited Ground Zero. As many of you know, it's a haunting sight, a giant gash in the asphalt flesh. Standing above that sight, behind a chain-link fence, we were utterly still and silent, stunned. No wonder New York  had so much trouble deciding on an appropriate memorial; how do you ever concretize September 11?

At St. Paul’s Chapel, less than one hundred yards from the World Trade Center site, we found what I believe to be the most appropriate memorial. Inside the 18th-century chapel, we discovered the heart of that tragic day. Filled with banners, letters, photos, the cots firemen slept on, endless hand-painted messages and prayers, the chapel is alive with the hope and love that sustained the living that day, and for months afterwards. The tears we both shed in St. Paul’s were from the palpable grief, and also from the very real presence of human compassion and love.

In the book Light at Ground Zero, a crane operator who worked at the site writes:

I’ve learned a lot about good and evil. I’ve learned a lot about the power of prayer. I never knew anything about Episcopalians or Presbyterians, or gays, or people with nuts and bolts through their cheeks, or those Broadway people, but now I know them all. We’re not heroes. They are the heroes. They’ve cried and prayed out loud for me. I never thought I’d have a family like this one.

Almighty God, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and guide our hearts into the way of peace, now and always. Amen.

The Signposts for September are written by Margaret Jones and originally appeared on explorefaith in 2005.