Saturday, September 11, 2010

Still Blessed are the Peacemakers

Every year on my daughter's birthday I run the post below which has alwyas been entitled "Blessed are the Peacemakers." This year the daughter who is the subject of this post, who was seven that fateful day is now 18. And she has gone off to college to be a Russian and international studies major. She has embark on that journey we talked of long ago- where the road will go we do not know. And while I still mourn the losses of so many I also celebrate God's possibility not the least of which I see in a young woman who was born this day . I still believe that the power of those who believe the world could use more peace and less brinksmanship exists. I pray that it is so.
Here is the first post from five years ago:

This week people across the nation marked the sixth anniversary of the tragedies which unfolded on September 11, 2001. Septembier 11th holds another importance to me- my younger daughter was born on September 11th and was an elementary school student in 2001 when the world seemed like it was falling apart.

It was, in the tradition of the school, her day to be the line leader and the snack person. And it all started out like any other great day. And it is almost always clear and sunny on her birthday, as it was that day.

She had been dropped off with her cupcakes and dressed in red, her favorite color. Her older sister was also at school and my husband and I were at work. The way it worked out, my secretary was on a family trip ( about a mile from where the plane went down in PA). So I had public radio on and I was vaguely listening as I waited for a client to come for an appointment.

As the appointment began there was a report that a plane had crashed into the Trade Center but the assumption was it was a small plane. Hmm. The client came and we met. When I finished, I called our lawfirm’s main office and people were frantic. Get to a TV, they cried.

So, still wondering, I walked down the street to the coffeehouse and on the TV, the now infamous plane clips that are etched into our collective memory were rolling. I got a coffee and as people were wandering in and sitting down to watch numbly, the first tower collapsed. I watched it as though it was a surreal vision, but it had really happened.

They announced that the last plane was unaccounted for, but was over Pennsylvania. I felt like Chicken Little; the sky was falling. I frantically called my husband, and found out his government office near the school was in lockdown.

The school called and I was on my way to pick up the kids. Driving on a sort of auto -pilot. As it seemed was everyone else. My kids got in the car and it was as I saw the tear-stained face of my young child, I realized that for her this was as much about her day as anything else.

How much do you share with 7 and 9 year olds? They had heard the whispers of a few things. We talked briefly about what I could say, planes had crashed and people were not sure what had happened but that it looked like someone made them crash on purpose.

When we came home, my birthday girl was wondering why anyone would do such a thing. At the time none of us knew who was behind the attacks or why. But it seemed to come from somewhere in the Middle East. I struggled to find a way to explain why any person would embrace death in this way.

I started by saying that people do not always agree about where other people should be able to live, or what religion they can believe, or what people can say and who is in charge. I used the playground as an analogy for who gets to pick the game, or who gets to be on the swings first, or who solves a problem when there is a fight. And I admit that even though grownups tell kids not to act out, and to get along and share, we do not always do what we tell them to do. And so we argue and we fight, even though we shouldn’t. And we try to settle things the way we want and we do not take turns. And we push and shove.

Heads are nodding and I think I have made a connection. Perhaps a little too well. Because then the birthday girl points out that the difference between kids on a playground and adults is that “ when adults fight, the way they settle things is to kill.”

My eyes welled up with tears as I heard the truth of what she so boldly said- yes, sometimes this IS what adults do. And now.. what to say? To my saddened, disappointed bitter child who at age 7 knows us as we can be?

I tell her she is right, and that when people do this, it is wrong, and that it makes God sad. She laments that this is how things are. And suddenly I find a moment of good news. I ask her to think about the fact she is not the only person born on this day. That there are too many to count. And that if she and every other person born on this day says, “ I have had enough!” They can become the peacemakers. They can help to bring the change our world needs. They can work for peace, not just because it is right, but because they know how awful not having peace is. And all around the world, change starts because one person stops saying “there is nothing I can do” and starts saying, “ I can do something.”

Post-script: For years I have said I hope that as the events of the past become further into history, the best hope we have of honoring memories is to work, pray and hope for peace. This past week's events with threats of burning Qu'rans are a sad reminder how far we have to go in understanding others and ourselves within God's world. LC#2 has indicated she wants to pursue a career in international affairs. Maybe she will be a peacemaker after all.

Finally, this past Thursday marked the beginning of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, a part of time called the “Days of Awe” that begin with Rosh Hashanah (New Year’s) and for ten days, ending with Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement. It’s a time for faithful reflection and repentance and reconciliation, for drawing all back together if possible. In the world of Islam it is time to begin the month of Ramadan, during which Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and to try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. How might we as Christians in this country also faithfully reflect and respond to God' call in our lives across many issues.I continue to pray that when we remember September 11th, just as it evokes sadness, we also remember that there is life and hope and God’s promise. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

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