This year, we celebrate the 11th anniversary of the attacks that occurred on our land the day of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Where were you when these events happened? How did that day forever change you—personally and/or professionally?
I remember where I was when the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center—in bed. Awakened by a friend’s phone call to alert me of these unfolding events, the tragedy of this day did not fully register with me until I turned on the news shortly thereafter. I sat in complete silence and shock as I observed the massive destruction of these planes. Living in Virginia Beach at that time, I recall driving to an appointment later that morning, listening to the local radio announcer describe the lines of vehicles heading to the navy and army base and thinking to myself, “Are we going to be hit next? How will the events of today impact Americans in the days, weeks, and months ahead?”
When tragedy strikes, it not only affects those directly impacted but even those non-directly. Thousands of people lost their lives that day and left numerous mourners behind. Our nation’s security systems have been forever changed due to the actions of a few. Americans are now much more educated on terrorism and the catastrophic results it can have on millions.
So, I then ask, “How do we continue to move forward after this tragedy?” First, we continue to seek the Lord for peace and strength through prayer and Scripture reading. Proverbs 3:5-6 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Secondly, may we serve each other as God would, allowing our ears to listen empathetically, our eyes to see the goodness in others, and our lips to speak words of encouragement and kindness. The power of one’s comforting presence can triumph over the difficult, cruel actions of others.
Personally, about a year later in 2002, after having discovered my love for trauma while completing my first unit of chaplaincy training, I came across the book God @ Ground Zero by Chaplain Ray Giunta. In this book, Chaplain Ray shares of his experiences of journeying alongside the responders as well as the victims and their loved ones. From his insights, I gleaned a new perspective on crisis response beyond the hospital walls and how I could expound on my role as a chaplain. Later, with September 11th serving as a reminder of my annual start date of my ministry, I know that date has helped defined me as a chaplain who thrives in trauma, chaos, and crisis.
To move forward from that horrible day in September eleven years ago involves acknowledging how that day changed you and those around you and, with God’s assistance and guidance, embracing what the future holds. Let us continue to step toward the future in faith, knowing that His glory will one day prevail for all of mankind.