It is September 11th. With so many others, I can’t help remembering the events of that awful day 12 years ago. I was at St. Paul’s in Delray Beach, Florida. I had just come out of church following our chapel service for our 3 and 4 year-old Day School students. I walked into my office. Someone told me I had a phone call. I picked it up. A parishioner was on the other end. “Chip, did you see what happened? A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center.” I hadn’t seen. I didn’t know.
I had a small portable television in my office and turned it on just in time to witness the second plane plow into the second tower. A nauseous feeling came over me, as it did over Americans across the country. This feeling came with the realization that we were not witnesses to a terrible accident. It was a deliberate attack. We were witnessing mass murder being committed against citizens of our country.
My sense of alarm increased. Our daughter lived in Manhattan. Susan’s sister, my sister worked in lower Manhattan, right next the Twin Towers. Our nephew was a New York City Fireman at the World Trade Center Ladder Company. Where were they? How were they? We began making frantic phone calls.
We did not lose family members that day. How we grieved for those who did. It was odd being in Florida in that period. As native New Yorkers, Susan and I both felt a deep yearning to “go home,” to be with “our people” in a time of grief and sorrow. Susan and I flew to New York in November of that year. The plane flew over Manhattan. Through the plane’s windows, we could see the gaping hole where the Towers had once stood. We cried.
And so this day, I pray and still cry for those who died, for those who suffer grief still. I pray as a family member and offer you my deepest sorry and pity. I also give thanks for those who were the saints of God that day – first responders who went beyond the call of duty, citizens who exemplified Christian sacrifice and love. It was an awful, terrible day.
It was also a day filled with grace and glory, not of murderers who thought they were martyrs, but rather, of heroes --- firefighters, police officers and just plain old ordinary people, who reminded us what love looks like in the midst of death.
A child was born in our parish that day, September 11, 2001 – a sweet, beautiful child to a wonderful parish family. I went to Boca Community Hospital that afternoon, to give thanks for the birth of this child. I went and was reminded of resurrection hope. On September 11, I remember grief and death. I also remember that birth. I remember life and hope.