September 11 will always be a trigger that launches a million memories. When my mother-in-law called to tell me she was going to the hospital, I realized I was ready for bad news.
I remember the day clearly as we, so many, do– as I remember the day Kennedy was shot, and the Reverend Dr. King, and others, and so many personal tragedies. So many, each leaving a dent in our personal and community psyches.
For me, September 11 was marked by horror and also vested with hope.
Sitting on the edge of my bed, watching the towers fall, I returned to the loss of my own sister whose life had been cut short not long before. When she died, I felt that the sky was ravaged by a large knife, leaving me with nothing but jagged edges. Yes, this is how that felt.
In spite of the pain, I dressed quickly and hurried to work.
I was a principal at a religious school. I had arrived early, as principals do, and the staff was wondering what to do: hold classes or send children home to safety and to be with their families? While the adults deliberated, I sat in a large room supervising a group of girls, finding ways to comfort them in this strange morning.
Without any direction, one girl opened her prayer book, and started to read. Others responded. They knew that in a tragedy, prayer would help, and rather than waiting for the verdict on the their own morning, they prayed.
Soon the room was alive with the lyrical voices of middle school children, children who understood the enormity of the situation, since many in their community were, that morning, in New York City, some of them on their way to the World Trade Center.
Sitting with these young girls, overseeing their safety, and watching them move into the only action they knew, joined us in hope, in the face of great tragedy.
So for me, the day will always be two-faceted.
Seeing the loving face of humanity helps. We pull together to heal. And it helps me slog through the daily news, to remember the goodness we all hold.
It is, after all, who we are.