3 Sing to the one who rides across the ancient heavens, His mighty voice thundering from the sky. Psalm 68:33
"Perfect". I remember saying the word to myself as I boldly head out the door for my morning run. Dog running at my side, the temperature a delightful 65 degrees; grass green, Crossings is getting a great review from the community, my attitude with You Master – just right. The world is at its best; this is, I know, to be a special day.
Most of all though, I remember the sky… not a cloud, not a single wisp… coloring of azure to cobalt; deep, brilliant, ethereal. Certainly this time of year in this are such vistas are pleasantly common, but this is somehow, even better and I wrestle for the words to describe it. Yes, the forenoon ceiling is… Godly. "Perfect".
It is at the end of my locomopodics that I discover Lord, just how singular this day is to be. There’s Bob my neighbor, greeting me as always. I jog to his driveway and we exchange warm greetings. Then he says, as I now remember almost casually, "Oh by the way, you probably haven’t heard yet. They just flew two airplanes into the World Trade Center towers."
My recounting from that frozen moment becomes like most others at spectator distance Father. The numbness, the shock, unbelief - the rushing to the television set for a glimpse of the carnage and devastation. Calls to my wife at work, my friends, "Are you watching this?" The failing of weak knees as I watch the "LIVE" shot of the first tower collapsing into a pile of rubble. The prayer to You, King of the universe, right there, right then… "Make it stop". But it was only just beginning.
The Pentagon hit as well, multiple highjackings, a plane crash in the vicinity of where my son goes to school. More prayers, discovering the location is not close to my son’s college or thankfully any population. Learning there were civilian passengers on all of these doomed flights, all innocent, all dead. Thinking, "What can I do?" "End Times" scenarios and scriptures pop into my head along with the sensation of impotence… then the phone rings. It is the Pastor of my church.
"We’re getting as many people together as we can to pray."
"When", I beg?
"Right now", he says lovingly.
Good answer, I am out the door… at first, I think, for the purpose of serving - something to do at a time when nothing will do. But as I press the accelerator I get a nudge from You… how selfish of me. Thoughts flood: Why should I think this is about me and what I need to do? This is about You Adonai. It always has been and it always will be. People die every day. How they die is just how they die. What they die for and who they are as that moment comes...? Suddenly I am crying.
Do I really think that the agony of those trapped and killed in the rubble is my pain? I can’t even imagine what they are going through. No Lord, I can only guess at the physical anguish – it’s horrid to imagine. Worse yet, I have no ability to fathom the spiritual torture of those in the throws of death yet to realize Your existence, the screaming agony of those who cross over without ever calling You Savior. I find myself wondering how I can capture this image for those not trapped in the rubble? How can I stop the screaming before it starts? How can I help the world to reach out to You in the "tangible" when most very much prefer You as invisible, untouchable, nonexistent?
Oh yes, that’s when You nudge me again – this time with words – spoken of Your own condition. "WHAT ABOUT ME? DO YOU NOW UNDERSTAND MY PAIN? MY AGONY? MY TORTURE WHEN I AM CUT OFF AND ATTACKED AND BRUTALIZED BY THE VERY ONES I REACH OUT TO IN LOVE? NOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND? DO YOU FEEL IT?"
These are the words crashing down in my feeble brain as I enter the home where we all are to join in prayer. There they all are in front of me, my friends, my loved ones, and one TV screen replaying the nightmare so recently unleashed, but all I can see, all I can hear is You.
I hear You as the first one starts a prayer for the wounded. I feel You as the second one prays for the safety of the emergency crews and volunteers. I touch You as a third intercedes for the souls of those trapped and on the verge of death and that You are made visible to them before… I breath You in my Living God as yet another petitions for the spiritual conversion of those responsible who are yet alive; that they may know Your – even my forgiveness.
Incredible. INCREDIBLE! I have sulked into this place fully prepared to dump my misery on You. Now I hear myself begging Your mercy for my anger when I should be praying for healing. And so You change my prayer… and my prayer changes me. There it is, that peace, that "beyond understanding" peace that only my God can bestow… and with it You have washed me, wrapped me, loved me.
I leave, anxious no longer to vent, but instead to give. As I am driving home, thinking of all I can do in You, all the ways that this tragedy can be turned to triumph, I look up at the sky and I realize why, today, of all days I have ever known – is different. Besides the perfect clarity and color there is more… rather… less. There are no contrails – those telltale signatures of jets as they travel. They speak of humankind’s achievement and of his arrogance. They point toward our great potential for good and to our weaker nature for embracing evil.
On this infamous day when mankind struggles to make a statement of power and control, You Majesty ironically have used the very tool, which we tried to use against ourselves – the airplane. By its temporary absence, the heavens are cleansed of our feeble conflicted attempts at conquest. Instead, there shines what has always been, You. Watching not just from above, but from around and within, You cause even the bleakest of moments to be cast aside and in it’s place, a light so pure… not a cloud, not a single wisp… coloring of azure to cobalt; deep, brilliant, ethereal.
And there are words to describe it. "We can learn, we can grow, we can believe". Even in the midst of the loss and the pain, this is somehow; even better and I no longer wrestle with the words or the human condition. There is hope. Yes, the forenoon ceiling is without contrails… Godly. "Perfect".
To be continued…
from "The Crossings Journal"