Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11: Six Years Later

In grief counseling, they say that three years is a normal amount of time for someone to "get over" the loss of a loved one. What they mean, of course, is that it quite often takes up to three years before things start to feel somewhat "normal" again. It can progress faster, but it can take longer, too.

In our nation, and especially in our state, we have been dealing with a much bigger, much different loss. It has been mingled with actions that have left us conflicted, too. So as we observe the sixth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, it still seems pretty raw.

I remember that day pretty well – I'm sure most people do. And I remember each of the memorial services that followed – the many in the days and weeks right after the attacks and the annual events thereafter. I'll be praying at another one tonight which takes place at a park named after a firefighter (and parishioner of our church) who died at the World Trade Center.

But it's different this year. There is a scaling back of the observances nationwide. Yes, we still remember the victims. Yes, we still loathe the hatred that went into making these murders. Yes, we still dedicate ourselves to working so that something like this won't happen again. Yet at the ceremony tonight, the organizing committee expanded its scope to include the various local firefighters who have died this year (presumably from natural causes as well as in the line of duty).

It doesn't minimize the sadness of 9/11, but it changes the perspective. And why not? It has been six years. Even though there is still a war going on, even though there are still terrorists loose in the world, it is possible to remember without ourselves becoming buried in the loss. We are all mortal and will all someday die. But while we're here, we have work to do – people to love, strangers to befriend, the poor and needy to serve, for example. It would be a shame to never rise out of the grief, to never raise our heads again and see that, despite hatred and anguish, it is still a wonderful world that offers us a bountiful life to live.