It's odd, remembering moments from an exact date so clearly. That morning has become a kind of "frozen snapshot" for many of us, although I realize how important it is that we recall that it was not yet a snapshot that day, but a real and tragic event that deeply affected the lives of so many people.
When I was younger, people would often ask "where were you when John F. Kennedy was shot?" and I would wonder about the events of that day, which happened four and half years before I was born. In my lifetime, I think there have only been two historic national events that come close to having that evocative power for me: the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York in 2001.
Sweet Girl, of course, will not ever remember the events of 2001. She was not yet born; in fact, not quite conceived (she was conceived just a few weeks later). In many ways, her conception was a deeper source of joy and gratitude for me that perhaps it might have even been otherwise, coming on the heels of my miscarriage that June and then the events of 9/11. I felt as though that tiny person growing inside me was a gift, a real gift, a tiny seed of hope. And now I see her lovely face and hear her tinkling laughter and feel the strength of her skinny arms when they wrap round my neck to give me a "biiiiggg huuuugg" and I know that she really is a gift and a blessing, and that her sphere of blessing is widening as her world widens. May she grow more and more into gifts of wonder, compassion and peace-making.
And may we all remember too that for many places around the world, "9/11" kinds of days, days of displacement and suffering, happened before and have happened since. The crisis in Darfur has worsened again in recent weeks, just as one example. The Sudanese governement has launched another offensive, and in the past three years hundreds of thousands have died and literally more than 2 million people have become refugees. May our hearts ache with pain over the suffering of our brothers and sisters there and elsewhere, even as we remember the aching hearts of fellow Americans.
"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12, ESV