The image that leads this post I created some eleven years ago in conjunction with a self-produced CD of original songs that I wrote and recorded while “employed” as a stay-at-home father with our son Isaiah, who was three years old when 9/11 happened. I remember that morning being fixed to the television while trying to keep him occupied and away from the TV in another room. I couldn’t fathom what was going on myself, much less allow myself to let the unspeakable images burn their way into his precious imagination. His precious imagination!
It’s hard to express what I feel today when I contemplate this image, with its apocalyptic juxtaposition of father and son walking on the beach and the smouldering buildings and silent cry of New York City in the background.
At least this: the same painful vulnerability and almost desperate love of a parent who hopes against hope for something better than what appears to lay on the horizon for my children – for all the world’s children – as the world’s grown-ups study and prepare and practice the terrible art of war.
Two years ago on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I reflected on that terrible event in our nation’s and the world’s history in light of Jesus’ encounter with woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) and – more specifically – the way Jesus disarmed the mob prepared to stone her. From there I drew parallels with Bruce Springsteen’s post 9/11 album “The Rising.” At the heart of the piece is the need to interrupt and call into question the logic – or better, perhaps, the coldly rational illogic – of retaliatory violence. I admit that re-reading the piece today in the atmosphere of all the talk about bombing Syria gives me the shivers. I invite you to read the essay here and post your comments below.
Like so many across the world, including Pope Francis, my prayers today are for peace, and for the healing and purification of memory that might lead us a little closer to understanding and reconciliation between divided peoples and nations. I pray for the victims of 9/11, their families, and the innumerable hidden victims of violence and war here and abroad.
Jesus, where we fail to believe in your way of non-violence, reconciliation and love, help our unbelief. Make us want to believe, and give us the courage and grace to more faithfully follow you, to move our desire for peace into constructive action. Amen.