When I went to work today, I never dreamed anything was wrong in America. I never dreamed it, but it was already wrong before Ileft.
Of course, word travels fast, and it wasn't long before I found out. We turned on the radios in our classrooms and treated our shock and terror like news headlines as we tried to go about business as usual. You had no idea what was going on as I held you, and for a while I could distract myself from my terror by marveling over how much hair you had for a baby so small. I found out later that you were not four months old but seven months old. I still think you have a lot of hair!
At 8:45 this morning, a hijacked plane crashed into one of the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Just 18 minutes later, another plane crashed into the other tower. Shortly after that, a third plane crashed into the Pentagon, and a fourth plane crashed near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Both towers of the World Trade Center collapsed, and there is no telling how many people died because of these events. To me, that seems like trying to count the hairs on my head. Only God knows the truth about those numbers; we can only estimate. But more importantly, He knows the names of each person, and He knows the condition of their hearts and souls.
It's hard to sit down and write about my thoughts. My mind is as chaotic as the New York streets, thoughts intruding like many voices being drowned out by one another. Some would call me pessimistic, but I fear that this is only the first day in a long part of American history. It isn't just because people keep talking about history being changed. It's because these acts were so obviously deliberate and so cruel--and cruel is a mild descriptor. What will have happened between now and the time when you are old enough to read and appreciate this? When I was a teenager, I often read that my peers feared nuclear war. I remember reading a fictional account of a family's survival after nuclear war,and thinking it was just science fiction. Why fear something so abstract? War was something I read about in my history classes. I couldn't live my life being afraid of it.
But history takes on an entirely new meaning when I begin to live it. Of course, I've always been living it; but now I have become a part of something you will read about in your history books. ... And God's gentle tugging at my heart, "Do not fear," is not so easy to obey. America is a big country. Would war affect only strategic points? Just where are those? Washington, D.C.; New York; Houston; Miami... Where else? Boston? Los Angeles? I suppose it depends on the reasons for the attack. But what are those reasons? I could talk about how fear makes it hard to think rationally; but war is not rational, and whether I like the sound of it or not I know that this is what war is made of. We in America like to take comfort in thinking we will retalliate and punish the offending people--probably the offending nation, including innocents--and life will return to some semblance of normalcy. I cannot believe that it could be so easy. War is a series of cruelties exchanged back and forth. When is a war won? Who knows? We can't put a nation on trial and sentence it to life--or death--in prison. And war eventually ceases to respect strategic targets. Other damege is done along the way. Where will that damage be in America?
Yet life must go on as if all is well. While listening to live broadcasts of the news, I must hold you and rock you as if I am calm. Perhaps we should have turned off the radios. The news would be replayed all day. Why keep it on? Because keeping it onsomehow made us feel like we were actively caring about what was happening rather than ignoring it. To turn it off would have been an act of shielding our eyes, turning away from the suffering of our country. Yet at some point I must turn my attention to what I CAN do, what I MUST do here and now, to the baby in my arms who is not afraid but simply craves a feeling of safety and closeness with a caregiver. May God grant me the strength I need to go on with such tasks.