It’s cloudy and dreary outside today. And it should be. Why shouldn’t the heavens grieve and mourn? For, on this day, fourteen years ago, the world changed. My country changed. I changed. A general trust in humanity, believing that most were kind-hearted and a few were corrupt to the core, shattered and gave way to suspicion, distrust and with a heightened sensitivity, all around… at least for a time.
This morning I made Mexican bread pudding, yes, that’s what I’ll call it, since I haven’t a name for it at all. And only those who have made it and loved it, will understand why I craved it in the first place. Bread, cut in slices and dried out completely, slowly toasted in the oven and cooled… Pour hot coffee over it until it is spongy, then drain coffee off and squeeze by placing another similar bowl inside, and pressing. Fluff the bread with a fork, and spread with favourite jam, and drizzle cream over it. (No, it’s not healthy. But I’ve probably done it 5 times in 20 years, so no harm done.) My father loved this food. And while it wasn’t a frequent thing, it was a favourite and every now and then, I give into the cravings. (Even though hubby says, ‘no kisses until you brush your teeth’ and generally turns up his nose at it.)
Just before I made it, I read that our very good friends, John and Cindy Yutzy, said goodbye to a father and father-in-law in the wee hours of this morning. I thought of my father in the hospital on this day, fourteen years ago, and the months that ensued before his passing. I remembered the world being rocked fourteen years ago today…
Fourteen years ago. Yet a memory that still seems etched on fresh canvas, moist to the touch…
I remember where I was, at that moment when I heard. Our daughters, then only five and six, had left for school, like every ordinary day, and Tim was at work, having started his new job at Floradale Feed Mill. (The best move ever!) Our oldest two sons, ages two and three, were home with me, oblivious to the wrongness of that day. And I was 2 months pregnant with baby number five; we had only just found out… And my father was in Tillsonburg hospital, facing a potential amputation.
I called my friend Danette Martin that morning for one thing or another, oblivious, and she said she heard of some dreadful thing happening in New York–and mentioned a possible bombing of Twin Towers. She was trying to call her family in USA, to see if they know more, but the phone lines were overloaded and she was having trouble getting through…
We didn’t have TV at the time, and my mind was fragile, being pregnant and all. And with my dad’s health declining, my childhood story was constantly in my face. Once or twice a week I would go see dad, and sit and talk. We went places, conversationally, I had never dreamed of entering with this man; places I wouldn’t have thought possible, or even would have trusted. And, while it was healing, it also brought the terror and insecurity of the past back in my face, leaving me vulnerable. Violence and death threats…
Violence and death threats that had made me pace the floor in childhood, now made me pace with the ‘not knowing’ of this bomb, or plane crash, or whatever horrible thing had happened. In childhood I knew my ‘enemy’ and had observed from birth what drove him, why he threatened, how he thought. And, while disarming, it was an advantage. This new threat was a stranger and that stranger might come for our country, our home, our children.
As each subsequent attack was reported, I felt weak. I wandered to the couch and lay down, numb and confused. Who would do such a thing? And, more importantly, why? And where next? Were our children safe? What kind of a world had we birthed them into? I placed my hand on my abdomen, as if to protect the unborn… My mind raced…
Little by little the story unravelled, it was a terrorist attack. Osama Bin Laden, a name that would forever be associated with the darkness and terror of that day, claimed responsibility, as an Islam extremist. Conspiracy theories soon challenged that, and swore up and down the government was involved, adding to the confusion and chaos…
And that is how that part of the story remains, even now, fourteen years later. On Facebook this morning the conspiracy theories still cross my newsfeed, as does the memory of terrorist attacks. Bin Laden’s name, while blame rests heavily on him, has not. He may be associated with that dark day, but he lost the spotlight quickly. However, most importantly, the newsfeeds are filled with stories of hope, courage and recovering; of building again and uniting as a nation; of being brought together through tragedy rather than torn apart and divided.
The ripples of a day like that never really end, both good and bad. Nations have united and risen above, but we also remember the losses. Today there are thirteen year old sons and daughters, who were in the womb that day, who will never know their fathers. There are adolescents now who, as toddlers, waited for mom or dad to pick them up that day; they never came. Today there are widows and widowers–and some who have remarried and started a new life–who relive that feeling of panic and anxiety, as they waited to hear from their spouse. They relive picking up the phone and dialling, over and over again, saying “come on… come on… answer… Please! … ” and crying out to God–whether they believe in Him or not–in a desperate attempt to make their world right… But their world was never made right. That moment robbed them of something precious. But in that robbing, for most if not all, resilience was born, and people rose up with new determination.
This morning it all collides in my mind, as I stare into my bowl of Mexican bread pudding; nostalgia and painful memories blended with tears of grief and gratefulness. Life is filled with loss. Innocent trust was stolen. My dad, with whom I watched the footage of the attack for the first time, has since passed on. Today my friend’s dad passed away. And you, my readers, have crises and losses… I have losses…. And in the middle of loss, my heart finds joy and peace in one thing; the kindness of God.
What the enemy means for evil, God is using for good and for His glory. Not only does He speak hope in every dark place, He is Hope in every dark place. And with that adjusting of my focus, innocent trust comes alive again. Because my God goes before me as a shield, and behind me as a guard. I am covered. I am safe.
He is Sovereign Over Us. The words of this song, by Michael W. Smith, comfort me, and turn my heart to the One who redeems all things.
May we never forget. Never forget the suffering of others… Never forget the courage and authority that come from standing together. Never forget that the real enemy is hatred and lies, and the one from whom those are birthed.
And may we never, never forget the kindness of God.
~ T ~
© Trudy Metzger