Saturday, September 10, 2011

A day of days

Sleep used to be one of my strong suits. Not to boast, but I could sleep with the best of them. To put it another way, if there were an NSL, the National Sleeping League, I would have been a first round draft pick. So it was that morning, my head, buried in my pillow, was dreaming pleasant thoughts, waiting for the rude blare of my alarm clock that I knew would be coming soon, when I dreamt the phone rang. Was I still dreaming?

One of the drawbacks to being raised on a cattle ranch are the calls you get at all times of the night informing you, "Your cows are out." Most of the time it was the CHP dispatch, how they came to have my phone number is still a mystery, but any cattle on Highway 16 between Esparto and the Lake County line somehow became 'my cows'. Having answered many of those calls over the years, I have a strange ability to go from dead asleep, to coherently awake it three rings of a telephone.

A little before 6:00AM, my mother in law Lois called to say that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York, and to turn on the television. I turned on the news and watched as the events of that horrific day unfolded. We all remember the shock, the confusion, the fear that gripped us as we watched what seemed to be an unending stream of terrible events. It was, as I think back on it, a day of days. A day I will never forget, ever.

With all the images of that day flashing across the television, I could not imagine the experience of being in lower Manhattan that morning to see, to hear, to feel and even to taste the gray ash of those demolished towers. The high definition images from the television or the pixels of a digital photo cannot reproduce the emotion, the terror, the anguish of that beautiful, clear, September morning that devolved into a hell on earth.

It is fitting the ten year anniversary of September 11, 2001 falls on a Sunday. It is the Sunday following 9/11 that I would like to take you back to if I may. Like many other semi-regular church attendees, I am pretty sure I had not been to church in a few weeks. At the time, our daughter was still a toddler, and church was a hit or miss proposition depending on how frazzled we felt come Sunday.

I did however, make it to church the Sunday after 9/11, and I wasn’t alone. I had to park quite a distance away that morning. The church was packed, and you could see the anxious looks on people’s faces. Gone was the friendly chitchat that usually precedes the start of services, in its place were quiet, concerned conversations about the previous Tuesday. Tears were met with reassuring hugs and a comforting word. It is in these times of crisis you find out just how hard you can lean on your church. There were a lot of folks leaning hard that day.

We were attending Bayside Church in Granite Bay at the time, and Pastor Ray Johnston delivered a powerful and very relevant message that Sunday. A message of sorrow yes, but also one of confidence, strength, and hope. A line that stuck with me that Sunday was God is still on his throne. He is still in charge, and we could draw close to his strength in the midst of this crisis.

In places of worship all over the nation that day, uncounted millions emerged from Sunday services with a renewed faith, and a sense of hope in the face a very uncertain world. On this tenth anniversary of September eleventh, I will remember the fallen, the heroes, and especially our soldiers, but I will also take heart that we are still one nation, under God.

God bless America.