Beauty From Ashes

Most Americans remember exactly where we were when we got the news. An attack- right here in the continental U.S. I was teaching in a private school, and the owner pulled me aside. Hushed tones conveyed a frantic message: Today was like no other day. Due to the attacks in New York and D.C., the Dallas Trade center was shutting down for the day, for the safety of it’s employees. Businesses all around stopped mid stride. Some students might be picked up early, and some parents might be considerably delayed.

I didn’t see the footage until after work; unspeakable scenes exploding across my TV screen. Footage playing over, and over, and over… that which I could not quite process. People running… fireballs and smoke… one collapse, and another…debris mingled with trembling lives… scores of cars abandoned on bridges while their owners fled.

 How could this happen? Who would do such a thing? We were shocked and yet uncommonly united. Differences melted away, and human beings became people, rather than victims. So many stories of heroism and kindness rose from the midst of chaos. 

Two years ago my son’s 9-11 homework assignment guided me towards contemplating ‘My Positive’ regarding 9-11. In 2012, I shared about Remembering…how our bodies store memories, not just in our minds, and the call to care for ourselves emotionally, as well as physically.

Previously,  I had the opportunity to share my process of coming to terms with this tragedy in Stories of Faith and Courage From the Home Front  by Karen Whiting and Jocelyn Green (the October 24th reading).

Each year an anniversary, each a different phase of processing and recovery. Anniversaries can mean celebration, or gaping loss. Today is an anniversary of the call to pray, to process, to connect with God amidst tragedy. 

Isaiah 61:3 tells us that God provides for those who grieve. The author is specifically referring to the destruction of a precious city; a city that, at the time of the writing, still lay in ruins.

Many Americans have seen images of a war zone… can visualize a city in ruins. Yet it was not simply a city that was affected, both then and now. There was much loss, and hearts are still in process, some needing the touch of our Healer to go deeper still.

The good news? Isaiah 61: 2b- 3 Declares that the spirit of the sovereign Lord provide(s) for those who grieve”  and will “bestow… a crown of beauty instead of ashes”. God grants “joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

 No matter what the devastation– or where– there is healing. Wellness is a process, and it takes time- but there is always hope. 

For me, the attacks were personal. Not just because my father in law lives in New York, nor because my family’s day to day life changed as a result the attacks. Not because I found out I was expecting our youngest son in the wake of 9-11. It’s personal because the enemy attacked on our home territory, and it’s compelling because so many heroes stood up that day and made a difference.

I like to think that the kindness and unity and love and decency that flowed from heart to heart that day eclipses the evil the enemy intended. And I believe with all my being that God never fails to give beauty for ashes.

~Just Me

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