Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pondering Today

leap by brian doyle
A couple leaped from the south tower, hand in hand. They reached for each other and their hands met and they jumped.
Jennifer Brickhouse saw them falling, hand in hand.
Many people jumped. Perhaps hundreds. No one knows. They struck the pavement with such force that there was a pink mist in the air.
The mayor reported the mist.
A kindergarten boy who saw people falling in flames told his teacher that the birds were on fire. She ran with him on her shoulders out of the ashes.
Tiffany Keeling saw fireballs falling that she later realized were people. Jennifer Griffin saw people falling and wept as she told the story. Niko Winstral saw people free-falling backwards with their hands out, like they were parachuting. Joe Duncan on his roof on Duane Street looked up and saw people jumping. Henry Weintraub saw people "leaping as they flew out." John Carson saw six people fall, "falling over themselves, falling, they were somersaulting." Steve Miller saw people jumping from a thousand feet in the air. Kirk Kjeldsen saw people flailing on the way down, people lining up and jumping, "too many people falling." Jane Tedder saw people leaping and the sight haunts her at night. Steve Tamas counted fourteen people jumping and then he stopped counting. Stuart DeHann saw one woman's dress billowing as she fell, and he saw a shirtless man falling end over end, and he too saw the couple leaping hand in hand.

Several pedestrians were killed by people falling from the sky. A fireman was killed by a body falling from the sky.
But he reached for her hand and she reached for his hand and they leaped out the window holding hands.
I try to whisper prayers for the sudden dead and the harrowed families of the dead and the screaming souls of the murderers but I keep coming back to his hand and her hand nestled in each other with such extraordinary ordinary succinct ancient naked stunning perfect simple ferocious love.
Their hands reaching and joining are the most powerful prayer I can imagine, the most eloquent, the most graceful. It is everything that we are capable of against horror and loss and death. It is what makes me believe that we are not craven fools and charlatans to believe in God, to believe that human beings have greatness and holiness within them like seeds that open only under great fires, to believe that some unimaginable essence of who we are persists past the dissolution of what we were, to believe against such evil hourly evidence that love is why we are here.
No one knows who they were: husband and wife, lovers, dear friends, colleagues, strangers thrown together at the window there at the lip of hell. Maybe they didn't even reach for each other consciously, maybe it was instinctive, a reflex, as they both decided at the same time to take two running steps and jump out the shattered window, but they did reach for each other, and they held on tight, and leaped, and fell endlessly into the smoking canyon, at two hundred miles an hour, falling so far and so fast that they would have blacked out before they hit the pavement near Liberty Street so hard that there was a pink mist in the air.
Jennifer Brickhouse saw them holding hands, and Stuart DeHann saw them holding hands, and I hold onto that.
 Brian Doyle
Listen to Paul Simon sing "Sounds of Silence"


You take my hand,
I'll take your hand
Together we may get away
This much madness
is too much sorrow
It's impossible
to make it today.

It's a rare repost, but such as it is:
waiting for God

Memorial at Shanksville Flight 93:
flight 93

Engineering Ground Zero:  film
 about the construction of the memorial at the
footprint of the two towers. Watch on Nova HERE.

In the Heart of My Home has a discussion of children's books about 9/11...e.g., "The book is a gentle re-telling. Our children are surrounded every day by references to the horror that forever changed our world. They will ask what "9/11" means and they surely deserve to be answered. But, they should not see that footage and they should not be bombarded with remembrances more appropriate for grief-stricken, terrorized adults. Childhood is all too brief. Very soon, they will be old enough to learn the details of the day. For now, this book tells them a story  of hope amidst the charred ruins. A story we all need to hear..."

A worker finds a child's toy in the rubble. A photographer's film curls with heat that day. It seems to me it is the little things people have remembered.
It is hard to say what a decade is suppose to feel like; to a 40 year-old a fifth of one's life passes in the next ten years; for a ten-year old, half of their life has been shadowed by a weird reality-- that incomprehensible hatred is planning in the dark.
How shall i respond to evil?
Political use of the tragedy or the
strange fanaticism of those who celebrated the death of innocent humans i might discuss later. For me now, it is finding small stories of families, and how lives changed in wonderful ways later, as the searing pain lessened. It is clear the anniversary has provoked many to re-examine the event, such as this young man's thoughts HERE.

there are a number of sites which have posted timelines and collected the startling images:

For me, the most heartwrenching images are those
of victims who jumped from the towers. Below is a video in tribute to them. (ponder and learn about yourself...)
Reaction to these victims was prominent in the recently released Frontline special about
Faith, God, and 9/11 (here) -[excerpts at end of post]*.
One commenter in the epilogue of this program was deeply moved by the couple who jumped from the burning tower together.
Hand in hand they jumped, and the eloquent meanings he ascribed to the act-- that they were not alone at the end, that in the face of pain and death they found each other, clasped hands, a last act of love in the face of hate--well,  although it is very hard, and has
 some stunning information-- read his short essay HERE.
September 11 had a deep impact on me. I was traveling on the East Coast at the time. I presume we all have our transformative inner experiences from this event; the anniversary has rekindled some quiet embers as it may have for you as well.
the pentagon on 911

more image collections:

It is impossible to describe the consequenses.
The sadness years down the road.

As the anniversary approaches, all the media have begun tributes.
e.g., from CBS: "Never-before-seen 9/11 photos on display in NYC:
Former police detective John Botte joined a special security detail at ground zero with his camera on Sept. 11, 2001. Botte speaks about his photos, which are now on exhibit at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in NYC."  Read more of this story: HERE

More pictures and summary  HERE

*  "...yet even the non-God image can be smashed, because the outpouring of kindness, simple acts of kindness, challenged a lot of people who thought you can't really believe in anything. They felt caught up in something that was bigger than just their neighbor or themselves doing an act of kindness. They really glimpsed something different. So you could have your image of all-good God smashed or you could have your image of there being no God smashed. The door is flung open. Then the question is, can one go through the door?
Anybody who tried to go on with a religious life will sooner or later come to a point where all their pictures of God are smashed, because they're too tiny. ... This has been written about by St. John of the Cross as "the dark night of the soul." It's been written about by Terese of Avila as "the period of aridity." ... It's typical for the religious life, to be plunged into not knowing. ...
One of the hardest things about the
Sept. 11 attacks is that people were just shoved into a place of spiritual crisis.
They're suddenly at the head of the line: Do you believe in anything? Do you care about anything? Where does meaning come from? Is the abyss of love stronger than the abyss of death? Is there any resurrection? How can I bear to even imagine being trapped in that building? I cannot go down. Will I be burned up? Will I be hurled out the window? Will I jump out the window? How can the person I love -- who was incinerated, jumped out a window, thrown out a window, crashed in a plane -- how can their last minutes be redeemed? How can I bear what they've suffered? Was God with them? Was God not with them? ..."  Read more: here
"...A third possible reason
that God is letting evil occur... God is not stopping people from exercising their free will. Think about this: If someone said that God should stop evil and suffering, then should God then stop all evil and suffering? If God only stopped some of it, then we would still be asking the same question of why it exists.
So, if we want God to stop evil and suffering, then God must stop all of it. We have no problem with this when it means stopping a catastrophe, or a murder, or a rape.
But what about when someone thinks of something evil? Evil is destructive whether it is acted out or not. Hatred and bigotry in someone’s heart is wrong. If it is wrong, and if God is to stop all evil, then God must stop that person from thinking his own thoughts.
To do that, God must remove his freedom of thought. Furthermore, which person on the earth has not thought something evil?
 God would be required, then, to stop all people from exercising their free will. This is something God has chosen not to do. Therefore, we could say that one of the reasons that God permits evil and suffering is because of man’s free will.
 Fourth, it is quite possible that God uses the suffering to do good..."

Assouline Publishing commemorates the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with Art for Heart: Remember 9/11. The book is a collection of drawings by young children; proceeds donated to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

*  "A San Francisco husband slept through his wife's call from the World Trade Center. The tower was burning around her, and she was speaking on her mobile phone. She left her last message to him on the answering machine. A TV station played it to us, while it showed the husband standing there listening. Somehow, he was able to bear hearing it again. We heard her tell him through her sobbing that there was no escape for her. The building was on fire and there was no way down the stairs. She was calling to say goodbye. There was really only one thing for her to say, those three words that all the terrible art, the worst pop songs and movies, the most seductive lies, can somehow never cheapen. I love you.
She said it over and again before the line went dead. And that is what they were all saying down their phones, from the hijacked planes and the burning towers. There is only love, and then oblivion. Love was all they had to set against the hatred of their murderers."

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