There has been so much written and said about the horrible events of 9-11-01 over the past 16 years, and much more will be in years to come. I (Orin) don’t have too much to add to it all — either it’s already been said, or I don’t know how to say it, or it’s not worth saying.
Here is the little bit I might add to the mix: that we should take care to learn from an event such as this what is truly there to be learned. I learned a quote from Mark Twain when I was in high school that has stuck with me ever since:
“We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”
Today’s post in our Jesus-Justice-Joy rotation is meant to be on joy, and it really it hard to be joyful on anniversaries of terrible occasions, especially deaths. Not only is it hard to be joyful, it sometimes seems wrong to be joyful, as if it were sacrilegious to the day.
Yet, Jesus calls us to be people of joy: because of his faithfulness, hope, and love; because of his word, truth, and promise; because of his justice, mercy, and peace.
Some of us remember exactly where we were and what we were doing that day, some of us are too young to remember or may not have even been born yet. Regardless of our circumstance, I believe we are called today to remember. For some that will mean sorrow, or perhaps even anger, or perhaps deep contemplation. While this event ought to bring forth from us very little (if any) joy, the most lingering act of terrorism would be if we could not be joyful people ever again.
For each of us, moving past anguish, grief, and anger is very much an individual process, so please don’t think I’m asking of you what seems yet impossible, if in fact it still is at this point. I do invite us all to be aware of the joy of the Lord that surrounds each of us always, and that as we reflect on and remember 9-11-01, that what we “take away” each year is different: more time has passed, and a year’s worth of life’s experiences has made us different persons who will in turn “get out of an experience” (as Twain said) something new and different.
Don’t feel as if you are stuck in fear, hate, or anger, no matter the cause. It’s human to feel these things, but it’s dangerous to become entrenched in them. I don’t want to be accused at the same time of setting up a zero-sum game. Scripture suggests to us to “have no anxiety at all,” (Philippians 4:6), but I often wonder how realistic that is. Ultimately, it’s not either-or, it’s both-and: joy in the midst of sorrow, hope in the midst of worry, faith in the midst of doubt.
Jesus calls us to — and gives us reason to — be people of joy. Look for joy today, and consider making an effort to be a moment of joy for someone else who may need just that.