The Day After

It is September 12, 2011, one day after the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our nation.  No one knew quite what to expect yesterday, though most of us knew that the ceremony at Ground Zero would be heartbreaking and memorable.  We worried that there might be another assault, but I do believe that our determination to remember those who died, and to honor the resilient and compassionate response of the people captured more of our attentive spirits.

Our church service at Pilgrim was a moving memorial through music and the Word.  The familiar words of the prophet Isaiah, “Comfort ye, my people” were fitting as we couldn’t help but shed more tears as that awful day rose again before us.    Then when the sun shone through our newly refurbished, 100 year old stained glass window,  I remembered my friend who said that “of all the places I wanted to be on September 11, it was your sanctuary.  I feel God there.”  During the youth message I shared my hope and prayer that this sanctuary would always be a place where they might meet God.  They have grown up here, and this should always be a home for them.

Later in the evening we gathered again in our sanctuary where we hosted a “Candlelight Vigil for Peace and Remembering.” Twelve Pilgrims joined to read the names of every victim of the attack.  We were together nearly two and a half hours, listening, imagining, weeping, praying.  When we were finished one person said, “I realize again, they are more than names.”

And so they were, and are, more than names.  They are people whose lives ended far too soon, random victims of unspeakable evil.   Yet they continue to live for their loved ones, and for all of us, reminding us again just however brief a life might be in our time, it is precious forever in God’s time.  Indeed, a young mother whose baby died when she had lived only 50 days made it clear to us when we gathered to celebrate her child’s wee life on Saturday.  “Every breath is a miracle.”

And nobody, no terrorist, no purveyor of evil, nobody can ever take those breaths away. 

“For surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives, and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.”  (Psalm 23).

With a grateful Amen,



Beth's Blog 

Beth’s Blog                                           September , 2011

I always tell people I am a runner though truth to tell I haven’t done much running for quite a while (and I won’t define just how long “quite a while is.”)  I go to the gym almost daily, so I do get exercise, but I have been finding it hard to get myself into the great outdoors to hit the pavement.  For years I would take a dog or two with me, but that just meant that my pace was determined wholly by how good the sniffing was.  In fact , though I had been running more than 3 miles regularly I found myself struggling with a 5k race a few Thanksgivings ago.  I realized I had gotten accustomed to short breaks as “we” stopped for fire hydrants, trees and  scraps of litter.

I decided things could change.  While during the last year a lot of my exercise was walking from cars to hospital rooms, having Paul at home means that I’m not moving so much.  So Sunday morning I decided to go out the front door and “run” the trail.   Since I wasn’t preaching I didn’t have to sit quietly for one the last read through of my sermon.  There was no excuse keeping me inside.

As I started out, my legs frankly felt as if they each weighed a ton.  My breathing was okay, but I had thought that all that time on the elliptical machine at the gym would have better prepared me.  I kept thinking I might just shorten the distance but the better part of me made me go my original path, which I figure was a couple of miles.

Just as I had decided that I wouldn’t turn around and I couldn’t take a short cut I noticed a bicyclist stopped along the trail.  While his bike was not visible initially, I could tell he was a bicyclist because of his clothes.  (As my son Teddy wondered as he thought about getting back on a bike  “If I ride do I have to wear funny looking shorts and shirts?”) The cyclist motioned to me.  I stopped and looked.  There, across the wash, was a bobcat.

For some people living near the hills like we do, seeing a bobcat has become nearly routine. This was my first. I was stunned silent as he loped by, scrawny and obviously on the hunt for food.  Assured that he was no danger, I marveled at just how close all of us creatures of God creatures are, and how, for better or worse, we have adapted to living near each other.  And more than anything, I was so grateful that my reluctant decision to go running and a stranger’s need to share a moment, had given me a snapshot of nature I would have otherwise completely missed.

Which made me realize that glimpses of God and God’s creatures and God’s creation are all around us all  the time.  We just have to stop.  And look.  And be thankful.


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